Doctor donates $21.1 million to raise China's medical graduates to US standards

Chinese Anaesthesiologist donates the US$15.6 million (S$21.1 million) he received from a new drug approval patent to a Chinese university in what is the biggest donation ever by a doctor in China.
PHOTO: Handout

A leading Chinese anaesthetist has donated 100 million yuan (S$21.1 million) to train high-quality clinical doctors, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Liu Jin, director of the Anaesthesia & Operation Center of West China Hospital of Sichuan University, southwestern China, received the money last year after the school signed a 750 million yuan contract with a domestic pharmaceutical company to develop two anaesthetic drugs invented by Liu and his team.

In September, Liu made the donation to the university, based in the southwestern city of Chengdu, to support the training of clinical doctors. It is the largest donation made by a doctor in China, the report said.

Dr Liu Jin said his family supported his decision to make the donation. PHOTO: Handout

“My family and I think it is a waste to use this money to improve our already comfortable life, while it will be significant for society if we donate it to the standardisation training system for resident doctors. The donation reflects our life values,” Liu, 65, told CCTV.

For the past two decades, the doctor has been a keen supporter of China’s resident doctor training system which he believes is vital to raising the quality of the country’s clinical doctors.

Liu said when he was doing postdoctoral research in the United States in the early 1990s, he discovered that the country’s medical graduates must receive three to five years of standardised training as resident doctors before practising medicine, unlike in China, where graduates work in hospitals directly after graduation.

He said this resident doctor training system was the primary reason that America’s clinical doctors were of a higher standard than China’s.

Dr Liu Jin said he was inspired by what he saw while studying in the US to work to improve China’s doctor training programme. PHOTO: Handout

After returning to China, Liu started a resident training system in several hospitals.

Since 2003 when he became a deputy at the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislative body, Liu has been pushing for state authorities to establish this system across the mainland until 2015 when China began to implement a resident doctor training system.

Liu’s anaesthesia centre has been ranked as number one among all mainland hospitals for a decade according to Fudan University.

He spent eight years inventing two new drugs – one is a type of local anaesthetic expected to be effective for 50 hours, which is two to five times the length of current drugs, and the other one allows muscles to relax during surgeries.

“Us three key professors in our team injected the drugs into ourselves one week before we signed the contract with the pharmaceutical company,” Liu was quoted as saying. “I am the first human being administered with the new drugs. We confirmed they were effective as we had expected before we signed the contract.”

He said he had consulted his family about his decision to donate the money.

“My wife supported me a lot,” said Liu. “My daughter sent me a message, saying I am the best father and she is proud of me.”

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This article was first published in South China Morning Post.