Interactions with netizens on the short-video app Kuaishou have helped a 5-year-old boy with chronic kidney disease in Changchun, Jilin province, fight loneliness and regain his smile.
In a clip posted on Wednesday, the boy, known as Xiaoshitou or "Little Pebble" to his 980,000 followers, is seen reading at home, holding a pencil and saying that it was his time to study.
He was diagnosed at 14 months old with nephrotic syndrome, a condition that damages the kidneys and wears down the immune system, according to Chu Bin, 38, the boy's father. "He doesn't understand the disease, but he knows that he goes to the hospital very often and takes a large number of pills," Chu said.
"He also can't enroll in kindergarten and play with his peers for fear of infection," Chu added.
Before going online, Xiaoshitou occupied himself at home with toys and a mobile phone. "We noticed that he barely smiled and hid when strangers-showed up," Chu said.
The boy began taking videos of himself and, with his parents' help, uploading some to Kuaishou in 2017. Netizens' greetings and encouragement flowed.
Xiaoshitou, who stands only 1 meter tall, has seen his weight balloon to nearly 35 kilograms from hormone treatments. His figure and casual chitchats with netizens have become popular on the short-video app.