Doctor is an elderly altruist for the ages

Updated: 2013-12-01 06:49

By Qi Xin in Zhengzhou, Henan(China Daily)

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"We need to do something good for our society no matter how old we are," says Hu Peilan, a 97-year-old gynecologist who still insists on working six days a week to serve her patients.

Hu arrives at her clinic, a 10-square-meter room in a community service center in Zhengzhou, Henan province, in a white gown. At about 7:50 am, the elderly gray-haired doctor puts on her black glasses and gets ready to start a new day. Many patients are expected.

People come here because of her reputation for kindness and devotion to her patients.

Yue Qin, 39, a patient from Henan's Pingdingshan, makes a special trip to see a doctor and comes to Hu's clinic to share her worries.

Yue has been on medication for a long time to control the symptoms of irregular menstruation but is worried about whether the treatment could have long-term side effects and wants to know the cause of the symptoms.

Hu listens carefully and suggests a check-up in an examining room next door.

Because of her lumbar disc herniation, Hu stands up slowly with the help of her assistants. It's a painstaking movement she replicates more than 15 times a day.

Tang Liping, an assistant who has followed Hu for 26 years, says Hu is patient-oriented and views them as relatives.

"She focuses on the patients' hearts and souls during the whole process and even forgets her own pains. It is very common for her to have lunch at 3 pm because she insists on treating everyone before leaving," Tang adds.

"Patients come here because of the trust. We have the responsibility for the people who trust us," Hu says.

About five minutes later, Yue's treatment ends. Hu prescribes a drug for a 20-day course and suggests her patient undergoes a CT scan at a large hospital nearby because the community health center is not able to provide this service.

Thinking that Yue may not be familiar with Zhengzhou, she tells her the specific road of the nearby hospital and makes sure Yue remembers it clearly.

"You'd better come here anytime you do not feel well," she implores. It's Hu's most frequently uttered sentence.

Another patient, Zhao Xinxiang, 43, says that Hu has successfully helped many women who faced the risk of having no babies, and some of them have already become grandmothers.

Meanwhile, people are curious as to how this elderly woman stays in such good health. Wang Hualan, 66, a woman who is in charge of serving her meals, gives a simple reason.

"Nine bottles of water is the must-have requirement of her daily life, and steamed stuffed buns are her favorite," Wang says.

After work, Hu sits on the sofa and reads newspapers. It's her regular practice to keep up with what's happening in the world.

"You are never too old to learn. I can learn something new by reading," she says.

Indeed, Hu is very "modern". When she was about 85 years old, she chose to be a member of China Young Volunteers and has the honor of being the oldest volunteer in Henan.

"Knowledge changes fate, especially for children. Reading helps them broaden their horizons," Hu says.

Since 2005, Hu has donated 70,000 yuan ($11,000) to Project Hope and built nearly 50 Hope Bookstores for children. She plans to donate another 30,000 yuan in the next three years.

"In addition, I plan to provide science and technology books in rural areas where doctors are urgently needed," says Hu.

Doctor is an elderly altruist for the ages

(China Daily 12/01/2013 page4)