Parents hand-pump air into son's lungs to keep him alive

PHOTO: Parents hand-pump air into son's lungs to keep him alive

CHINA - Madam Wang Lanqin sits by her son's bed as her coarse hands grips a blue plastic ventilator that she pumps by hand to keep her injured son alive

For years, she and her husband Fu Minzu, 67, took turns pumping the device to help their son Fu Xuepeng breathe. They could not afford to pay for his hospital care after he was paralysed in a motorbike crash.

Three minutes of forgetfulness, or stopping the constant compression of the bag by hand, means stopping their 23-year-old son's breathing.

The couple's hands became deformed from two years of pumping the device thousands of times a day, media reports said.

But their load was lightened after they built a primitive mechanical ventilator with help from relatives, AFP reported. It cost them 200 yuan (S$40).

The rusty, oil-flecked machine, which incorporates a plastic milk bottle, stands on wooden tables held in place with slabs of rock, and is connected by a tube to their son, who lies in bed wearing a red hat to protect him from the cold.

Even after building the machine, the couple kept up their hand-pumping routine during the day to avoid paying expensive electricity bills. They also provide round-the-clock care for their son, who is paralysed but conscious.

After pictures were widely circulated in Chinese media, there was a flurry of donations to the couple, who are from a village in Huangyan district in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

These included cash and a modern ventilator sent by a Beijing company.

The couple "never think of giving up, not for one second", Mr Fu Minzu told the China Daily.

"No parents would give up on their child as long as there is a slight chance of living."

18 times a day

'No money, only time'

In the spring of 2006, their only son, Mr Fu Xuepeng, was riding his motorcycle home from work when he was hit by a car, leaving him seriously injured.

He spent one year moving between major hospitals in the country and meeting consultants, but it proved in vain. To have Mr Fu remain in a hospital was too much of a financial burden for the family.

After spending nearly 1.1 million yuan in medical fees, the parents were heavily in debt and had to take their son home in 2008.

Over the following seven months, the parents and one of their daughters took turns compressing the bag 18 times a minute, allowing air to flow directly into his lungs via a tube, Xinhua news agency reported.

Neighbours and visiting relatives occasionally "took turns".

"We have no money, no power, only time and patience," said the father.

He told the China Daily: "Many people, including government officials, have sent their care and offered help since a newspaper published our story.

Doctors from provincial hospitals have come and held consultations, but with no good news."

The son, who with great effort can speak for a short time, told the Hangzhou-based Qianjiang Evening News that he wanted an operation - even if there was only a 1 per cent chance of success.

Get The New Paper for more stories.