She's first Chinese paraplegic to give birth

PHOTO: She's first Chinese paraplegic to give birth

The gymnast was only 17 when she had a fall and became paralysed from the chest down.

Years of treatment and rehabilitation followed for Ms Sang Lan.

On Monday, Ms Sang Lan, 33, gave birth to a baby boy, her family announced on her Sina Weibo account.

The child, which weighed 2.8kg, was delivered by caesarean operation in Beijing, the Shanghai Daily reported.

The report claimed that she is the first patient in China with a severed spinal cord to successfully deliver a baby by caesarean operation.

Before giving birth, Ms Sang posted on her Weibo account, the Chinese version of Twitter, where she said: "It is beyond imagination that I am going to be a mother that I feel so grateful."

She had married her agent Huang Jian last year.

Last October, she mentioned her plan to have a baby, China Daily reported. She write on Weibo that people should not be surprised that a disabled woman like her is doing so.

A few days later, she disclosed the risk she was taking to be a mother. Because she had been taking medicine to control her bladder, she was worried the drug would affect her child.

"I have to go through this anyway," Ms Sang wrote.

Dr Gao Guolan, who performed the caesarean operation, said that doctors have not noticed any adverse affects of her medicine on the baby.

GOOD HEALTH

"But maybe Ms Sang should avoid breastfeeding the baby to avoid the possibility that the medicine may affect his nervous system", China Daily quoted Dr Gao as saying.

Ms Sang is in good health and needs to stay in the hospital for at least five days, said Dr Gao.

Ms Sang, who was on China's national gymnastics team, fell during a warm-up for a vault event final at the Goodwill Games in New York in July 1998.

After spending a year in New York for rehabilitation, she returned to China and became a television personality and an advocate for the disabled.

She was an ambassador for Beijing's successful 2008 Olympics bid and was selected as an Olympic torchbearer.

In 2011, she claimed that during her warm-up, someone had tried to remove a mat from where she was about to land. Distracted, she fell and hit her head on the floor.

Ms Sang filed a US$1.8 billion (S$2.2 billion) lawsuit in the US, initially against three people and five institutions, including Goodwill Games founder Ted Turner, AOL Time Warner and the US Gymnastics Federation.

She had also accused her former legal guardians' son of sexual harassment during her rehabilitation at their house 13 years ago.

Sang reached a settlement with three insurance companies and USA Gymnastics, where the insurers agreed to pay an undisclosed sum and cover future medical and rehabilitation fees in the US and China.

This article was published on April 16 in The New Paper.

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