China Bridge (神州橋樑)_2013/Jan

Putting others first

Putting others first can be such a natural, beautiful part of life.
The heart benevolent and kind the most resembles God.
Robert Burns (1917 – 1979)

Rescue hero may lose both legs. We often see headlines like this, we read all about the incident and then marvel at the bravery and fearlessness of the individuals who help others even in the face of possible danger to themselves. We ask ourselves, could I, would I do the same?

The hero who might lose his legs is a 20-year-old student at Railway Police College in Zhengzhou, Henan province. He risked his life in an attempt to save a suicidal man from being hit by a train.

The train braked for an emergency stop, but unfortunately it still ran over the student. His lower left leg was amputated and his right foot damaged.

The doctors are hopeful the right leg can be saved and have transplanted his left foot to the right leg so he will only need one artificial leg in the future. This young man is in for a long recovery period.

When his parents arrived at the hospital, his mother asked if he regretted what he did. The son responded that he would still try to save others under similar circumstances.

The Beijing railway police authority rewarded him with 200,000 yuan ($248,710) for his heroic act and promised him a job when he finishes his studies in Zhengzhou. The man who tried to commit suicide was unconscious at the time of this article. (China Daily, 16 July 2012)

“Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.” (Rabindranath Tagore, poet)

Pregnant woman saves toddler

A 27-year-old woman, six-and-a-half months pregnant with twins, is being hailed as a hero by some, but reckless by others, after jumping into a two-metre deep pond to save a neighbour’s toddler from drowning.

She said she acted on instinct, when she jumped in to rescue the two-year-old.

What is remarkable is that this woman did not know how to swim. In fact she said she is scared of water as she nearly drowned once when she was a child. She said the water was cold and the child was already pale, her lips were blue and she feared the child would die.

Later she was asked if she considered the safety of her unborn babies before jumping in to save the child. She responded, “I had no time to think. I just took off my shoes, closed my eyes and jumped in. There were no other adults around, only children.”

It seems the adults were in the village busy harvesting wheat in the fields and there were only children nearby, playing next to the pond. Luckily a man soon came and took the baby from the woman and rushed them to a hospital.

At the hospital, the gynaecologist said that a six-and-a-half-month pregnant woman should take extra care even when walking, let alone jumping into the cold water to save a person. The doctor said she is extremely lucky the twins are stable.

This rescue sparked a widespread debate about whether she did the right thing in risking her own life and those of her unborn babies to save another child’s life.

The doctor disagreed with what she did on medical grounds, despite admiring her. However, sociologists praised her bravery more than anything else.

A professor of Women’s Studies at Fudan University said, “It shows the brighter side of humanity. Whether the decision was bold, or right, or threatened her, then I think the woman didn’t have time to think about ‘what’s the rational thing to do?’… She followed her instinct.” (China Daily, June 11, 2012)

“In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12)

Teenager hailed as a hero for saving girl

A 16-year-old girl is being hailed as a hero after she was badly injured while trying to save a baby from being hit by a truck. She dived to push a one-year-old out of the path of an oncoming truck on a road in Foshan, Guangdong province. She thought the truck would stop after hitting her, but it still ran over the toddler.

This teenager lost the skin on her right foot and unfortunately, the child suffered serious injuries to her legs, which may have to be amputated. The doctors said the two of them are in a stable condition, but face lengthy recoveries.

The chief physician of hand and foot plastic surgery at the hospital said the young lady will need several skin grafts and it could be at least three months before she can walk again.

The hospital said it is treating her for free at the moment. The little child suffered multiple dislocations and blood vessel, nerve and soft tissue injuries in both her legs. The doctor said, “The soft tissue of both lower legs was fragmented, and we can only save one of them completely.”

The Guangdong Women’s Federation sent officials to visit the young woman and gave her 30,000 yuan ($37,306) in financial assistance, while the Foshun government also sent officials and praised the teenager as a hero and role model. The young woman transferred a donation of 50,000 yuan ($62,177) from a charity fund to the child’s family.

The families of the teenager and the little girl are in shock and worry about all the medical procedures the two of them have to go through. The baby’s mother was devastated by the news that her daughter’s left foot may have to be amputated. She said, “She has a long way to go. I’m worried that she will be self-conscious about her prosthetic leg.”

The teenager doesn’t like all the publicity. She has said, “Although I suffered a foot injury, I saved the girl’s life and I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” (China Daily, 9 July 2012)

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you, he will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22)

Devoted doctor

Have you ever heard of Plague Island? It is located in Nanji, Nanchang, Jiangxi province. Many medical personnel have left over the years in search of a better life, but not Chen Fanjing, who chose to stay with the people of the island.

Chen, who is 57-years-old, has been working at the local health centre for 38 years, during which he has treated more than 100,000 patients and saved hundreds from the grip of death.

His focus is on preventing and treating snail fever, a chronic parasitic disease that earned Nanji its notoriety as Plague Island. The villagers, mostly fishermen, are often exposed to contaminated water containing infected snails, and many contract the disease, which causes diarrhoea, severe abdominal pain and even death.

Every morning, Chen stations himself at the ferry terminal to check the lake’s condition so that he will be able to steer the boat in case anyone needs to be transferred to the hospital in the nearest town, Xinjian, more than 70 kilometres away across Poyang Lake, the country’s largest freshwater lake.

Although Chen is the director of the island health centre, he is not a trained medical practitioner.

His pursuit of a medical degree was prematurely terminated for a combination of reasons: poverty, poor academic base and the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

Chen says not making it to medical school is his greatest regret as it was his childhood dream to be a doctor, having witnessed fellow villagers who suffered from snail disease since he was young.

After graduating from junior high school in 1970, Chen went to a medical secondary school in Xinjian for two years, before returning to work as a barefoot doctor, farmers with basic medical training who worked in rural villages. In 1974, he started working at the local health centre and became its director in 1995.

Chen admits that living on an isolated island can be unbearably boring. Sometimes, even television signals are weak. He admits he once thought of leaving. He said, “But after talking to my superior at that time, I decided to stay. Who else could my fellow villagers turn to for help, if I, someone who was born and bred here, left them?”

Chen and the other medical personnel are an overworked lot. Chen is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He remembers vividly one stormy night in 1991, when a villager came knocking on his door at about 10.00pm because of abdominal pain. It was later discovered that the man was suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding, caused by snail fever.

Because of inadequate medical equipment, Chen decided to transfer the man to the hospital in Xinjian. He and two colleagues, carried the man into a fishing boat. Darkness made it difficult to manoeuvre the boat. The billowing wind exacerbated the situation.

“I did fear being killed if the boat sank,” Chen says of that eventful night. “I kept telling myself to focus on listening to the wind to steer the boat in the right direction.” Two hours later, the boat pulled into the shore, safe and sound. The man survived. (China Daily, 11 July 12012)

Chen Fanjing’s dedication to his people reminds me of the words of St. Paul as he bade farewell to some of his followers: “I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:33-35).