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Pictures worth a thousand words

By Yang Yijun | China Daily | Updated: 2011-02-17 08:02

Pictures worth a thousand words

Among the many stores on online shopping portal is "Baby Keyi", where all the products sold are photos of the girl.

The store's owner Long Li, 24, is a mother from Chenzhou, Hunan province. Her daughter Chen Keyi was diagnosed with beta-thalassemia major - a genetic blood disorder resulting in failure to produce the protein that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen and carbon dioxide.

The disastrous news came in October 2010, when the girl had just celebrated her first birthday. Doctors said she wouldn't live five years without proper treatment.

To prolong her life, the girl has to undergo blood transfusion and other treatment every 20 days, which costs 3,500 yuan a month ($531). The expense is a huge amount for the couple, who work at a kitchenware plant in Dongguan, Guangdong province.

Long works as an office clerk, while her husband, Chen Weihong, 32, who comes from Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, is a quality control employee. They rarely have any money left after paying for their daughter's medical bills.

Medical experts told them a bone marrow transplant could cure their girl, but they need to pay 400,000 yuan ($60,712).

"One day my husband and I stayed awake all night worrying about Keyi's medical expenses. The idea of making money by selling her photos suddenly came to our minds as we looked at her photos," Long says.

"She always has a sweet smile, even though she suffers from such a severe disease."

The online store named after Keyi was set up in October, selling more than 100 photos of her, priced from 2 yuan (30 cents) to 1,000 yuan ($152). Long usually e-mails the photos to the customer when payment is made.

"Our colleagues were our first group of customers and some mothers I knew from a QQ instant messaging group. Later, they introduced the store to more people," she says.Thanks to the coverage from national media the store became well known.

So far, more than 1,000 people have bought photos and helped the couple collect more than 50,000 yuan. A charity foundation under Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily also donated 10,000 yuan to the family in December.

The store, however, was closed in mid-January, as the website administrators thought it was collecting money rather than selling products, which violates the principles of the website.

"I felt desperate at that time, as the store was our only hope of collecting money for my daughter. I contacted the administrators but it didn't help," Long recalls.

"I had no choice but to ask local media for help. Luckily, they managed to persuade the administrators and re-open the store for me," she says.

"I first saw the store on my friend's online shopping record," says Long Feifei, an online store owner in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. "When I clicked to the store and read the story of the family, I immediately decided to offer my help by buying a photo."

She also told her customers and friends about the little girl. "I hope she will be able to have a transplant as soon as possible," she says.

The couple is planning to register at a hospital to look for a bone marrow sample that matches their daughter's.

"Some other patients succeeded in finding a matching sample in six months. We hope we can be that lucky, too," Chen says.

Doctors have suggested they have another baby, as the bone marrow of a brother or sister is likely to be a match.

"We have no idea which method will work, nor do we know when we will gather enough money for the transplant. But we will try our utmost," he says.

At the online store, Long Li has posted some information about the disease and methods for dealing with it.

"I'm really grateful for the help given by so many strangers and I do hope all babies live healthily and happily," she says.

China Daily

(China Daily 02/17/2011 page20)

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