SHANGHAI - A 38-week-pregnant tuberculosis patient might finally find a delivery room in Nanjing.
The local health bureau has promised her a green channel.
Thirty-four-year-old farmwife Wang Jiafeng and her husband Xu Pinlong from Jiangsu province's Yancheng came to Nanjing, the provincial capital city, a month ago for a medical checkup.
Wang had been coughing incessantly.
Soon after Wang was diagnosed with tuberculosis and admitted to Nanjing Chest Hospital on Nov 25, a new problem arose.
Nanjing Chest Hospital, which is famous for curing tuberculosis, does not have a delivery room.
While her expected date of delivery is sometime in the beginning of December, Wang is already experiencing birth pangs.
"This hospital doesn't have an obstetrical department," said Xu. "I couldn't find a hospital in Nanjing that would admit her. My wife could give birth any minute."
He said Nanjing Maternal and Child Health Hospital sent over a doctor to check on Wang, but they were reluctant to admit her as tuberculosis was highly infectious.
"Nanjing No 2 Hospital, which treats contagious diseases, however, said they were short of beds in the gynecology and obstetrics department," he said.
Xu's desperate search for a delivery room in Nanjing doesn't seem to be going anywhere. "It already cost me 20,000 yuan (S$4,025) for a week spent in the chest hospital but I am willing to spend whatever it takes to ensure a safe delivery," Xu said.
Nanjing No 2 Hospital said it has never admitted a tuberculosis patient.
Nanjing Maternal and Child Health Hospital also explained that it didn't even have an isolated ward to put up an infected patient.
There's also concern that the newborn infant might be carrying the germ.
"Normally the transmission of tuberculosis from one person to another depends on the number of infectious droplets expelled by a carrier, the effectiveness of ventilation, the duration of exposure, and the virulence of the M. tuberculosis strain," said a doctor from Nanjing Chest Hospital who was on duty on Sunday and refused to give her name.
"If Wang were affected by acute military tuberculosis there was a chance of passing the disease on to her baby. However, the possibility of such a transmission is not so high," she said.
The good news, according to the doctor, was that Wang's health has improved in the last 10 days.
And now Yue Chao, an officer from Nanjing health bureau, has promised that they would arrange a delivery room for Wang.
"Once Wang shows the prenatal signs, we will transfer her to a gynecology and obstetrics hospital immediately. Thereafter, she will be sent back to the chest hospital," Yue told the Yangtze Evening News.
"We have negotiated with the hospitals. An isolated ward for Wang would be arranged very soon," he said.
But neither Wang's husband nor the Nanjing Chest Hospital have been told which hospital she would be shifted to.
Chen Chao, director of the department of neonatology with the Children's Hospital of Fudan University, said according to a Shanghai regulation, pregnant patients of hepatitis, tuberculosis and AIDS should be delivering their babies only in hospitals treating infectious diseases.
In 2010 alone, 36 pregnant AIDS carriers gave birth in Shanghai.
China has the world's second-largest population of people with tuberculosis, according to the findings of an epidemiological survey on the airborne infection conducted in 2010.
Currently, China has 5.23 million tuberculosis patients and an incidence rate of 459 cases per 100,000 people aged 15 and above on the mainland, according to the result released early this year.