$2 per hug to save sick child

CHONGQING - A hug in exchange for 10 yuan (S$2). This is what a Chinese woman is offering to raise money for her daughter, who has leukaemia, said the Chinese media.

The 28-year-old woman, Chen Dejuan, was spotted outside a light rail station in south-west China's Chongqing city on Saturday, offering to hug anyone willing to give her 10 yuan to help with her daughter's medical fees, reported the city's official news website, Cqnews.

To prove she was not a swindler, Ms Chen showed her daughter's medical records, Cqnews added

Her four-year-old daughter, who was bald, sat at her side while she held up a placard on which was written, "Hug for sale - 10 yuan each", according to the website.

Some of the donors gave more than 10 yuan, and a number of them hugged her and her daughter, the website noted.

Ms Chen told Cqnews that she was initially squeamish about the thought of being hugged by strangers, and she ended up pacing around the station with her daughter for more than three hours on Friday, the first day of her money-raising effort.

"But seeing that my daughter was feeling uncomfortable and weak under the sun, I felt pain and knew I had no choice but to do it," she said.

"In fact, offering to be hugged by anyone requires lots of courage."

According to Ms Chen, she raised about 600 yuan in the first hour on Friday.

After her story made it to the Internet, many people transmitted money to her bank or online payment account.

Dismayed that some saw her act as a publicity stunt, she said she did think of selling desserts instead, but her daughter needed her constant care and the takings would not have been enough.

She revealed that she and her husband discovered their daughter's disease in May, while they were working in Shandong province.

They came back to Chongqing, her husband's native city, where they spent all the money they had borrowed at the Chongqing Medical University (CMU) on their child's treatment.

"My husband has gone back to his home county to sell off some of my dowry," she added.

She said she hit upon the "hugging" idea when some people she met in the hospital gave her monetary assistance, while others gave her hugs as encouragement.

A check with CMU showed that Ms Chen's daughter had been warded there for a period of time, said Cqnews.

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