By Xu Jingxi
A 16-year-old girl is being hailed a hero after she was badly injured while trying to save a baby from being hit by a truck.
Li Shushu lost the skin on her right foot as she dived to push Zeng Siwen, 1, out of the path of an oncoming truck on a road in Foshan, Guangdong province.
The child suffered serious injuries to her legs, and they may have to be amputated.
Doctors said Li and Zeng are both in a stable condition, but face lengthy recoveries. Police are investigating whether the driver of the truck was speeding.
Li refused to discuss the accident on Sunday, saying previous media reports had exaggerated the incident.
"I don't want to talk about it any more. What I did was not a big deal," she said from her hospital bed at the Foshan No 1 People's Hospital, shortly after undergoing her second operation. "The media should stop reporting the incident. I just want to have a good rest and recover."
According to previous reports, Li, a migrant worker from Zhanjiang, also in Guangdong, was visiting a friend at a restaurant in the city's Shunde district on July 2 when she offered to take the owners' daughter, Zeng, to buy candy at a store across the road.
Yangcheng Evening News last week quoted Li as saying the baby pulled away from her hand and ran into the road, right into the path of an oncoming truck.
Diving to save the child was a "subconscious reaction", Li said in the report. "I thought the truck would stop after hitting me, but it still ran over Zeng."
Zuo Zhongnan, chief physician of hand and foot plastic surgery at the hospital, said Li 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.
"It's boring to lie in bed all day, every day. I want to walk as soon as possible," Li told China Daily. She said despite her injury she still thinks it was the right thing to do. "Although I suffered a foot injury, I saved the girl's life."
The teenager's grandmother, Li Xiuzhen, said she is worried about her granddaughter's injury but proud that she risked her live to save Zeng.
"I have been telling her since childhood to help those in need," said the 63-year-old. "I didn't expect her good deed would bring her so much attention and honor. It would be great if my granddaughter's behavior can encourage more people to do good deeds."
The Guangdong Women's Federation sent officials to visit Li on Wednesday and gave her 30,000 yuan (S$5,992) in financial assistance, while the Foshan government also sent officials. Du Jingchu, deputy Party chief of Shunde, praised Li as a hero and role model.
Li, however, seemed more concerned about Zeng's situation than her own.
Zeng's father, Zeng Xiaoping, said Li has offered to transfer a donation of 50,000 yuan to his child from a charity fund set up by Tencent, a Chinese Internet company.
"Tencent staff called us on Thursday, but I may turn down the offer because I know that Li is also in need of a large sum of money for medical fees," said Zeng Xiaoping, 27, who has spent more than 40,000 yuan on his daughter's medical treatment.
Most of the money was borrowed from relatives.
Huang Anna, a surgeon at Nanfang Hospital in Guangzhou, the provincial capital where Zeng Siwen was transferred on Tuesday, said the child suffered multiple dislocations and blood vessel, nerve and soft tissue injuries in both her legs.
"The soft tissue of both lower legs was fragmented, and we can only save one of them completely," said Yu Bin, the chief physician of bone trauma at Nanfang Hospital.
Zeng's mother, Yao Sha, said she was devastated by the news that her daughter's left foot may have to be amputated.
"She has a long way to go. I'm worried that she will be self-conscious about her prosthetic leg," Yao said, holding back her tears as she showed China Daily photos of her daughter smiling and dancing.
Zeng's grandmother believes the accident was Li's fault. She claimed Li left Zeng outside the restaurant and didn't hold her hand.
"Now almost everyone is calling her a 'hero', and few care about my granddaughter," said Zeng Chunxiang.
Yao, the baby's mother, admitted she has mixed feelings. "However, I won't blame Li. After all, she took my daughter out to buy candy out of kindness. No one expected the accident. She also got hurt when trying to save my daughter."
Zeng Xiaoping, the girl's father, is also grateful for Li's brave deed. "It would have been my daughter's head instead of her legs that was run over if Li didn't push her away," he said.
Zeng's parents said they are waiting for the results of the police investigation.
"A witness told me that the truck was running at a speed of 60 to 70 km per hour. The driver might have been speeding," said Yao.
Her husband said there is a steel market near the restaurant, and trucks from the market frequently speed in the area.
"There are no traffic lights or zebra crossings on the road," Zeng added.
According to New Express, police have concluded alcohol was not a factor, but have not determined whether the driver was speeding.