LIFE PULSE: A Global Quest for Qiqi.
A call to save a precious life and seeks the help of people across the world for a cure.
Seven-year-old Yang Qiqi has contracted a rare life-threatening blood disease that requires the help of the global village. Reporter Zhang Haizhou reports. (email : firstname.lastname@example.org )(To Help the girl, please contact CHINA DAILY at 86-10-64995263 or 86-10-13810795928 )
Every week and a half for the past six(6)months, seven(7)-year-old Yang Qiqi has been coming to the Peking University People Hospital for a blood transfusion. It is the only thing that is keeping her alive.
June,2007, she was diagnosed with acute and severe aplastic anemia in which the bone marrow cannot generate blood cells.
Her parents, Li Jianqiang,32,(mother) and Yang Dongsheng(father) have launched a worldwide appeal for bone marrow to match Qiqi's, as a bone marrow transplant is the only long term solution for saving the little girl.
Everything went smoothly with the blood transfusion, but Qiqi herself did not seem to be happy about the treatment.
"Doctor, if you keep transfusing other people's blood into my body, my marrow will be too lazy to produce my own blood," Qiqi said to her doctor Cheng Yifei, while staring at the transfusion tube.
Until she receives a blood transfusion, Qiqi's skin is abnormally dark. She was also gone from 30 to 45 kilos in the past year as a side effect of her medications.
By choosing blood transfusions, Qiqi's parents are hoping for miracle. The doctor told them that in some cases this method could stimulate the marrow to generate blood cells again.
However, in Qiqi's case, the chances of a miracle are slim. "Qiqi's illness has continue to progress," Dr Cheng said. The blood transfusions have had no curative effect except that of keeping her alive.
A successful bone marrow transplant is the way to save Qiqi, the physician told CHINA DAILY. But there is a caveat.
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A bone marrow transplant is the normal procedure for curing leukemia, Dr Cheng said. "But Qiqi's illness is different from leukemia, and the rate of success is less than 50 percent, unless she can get bone marrow from a sibling, which she does not have," he explained.
"Even the parents' marrow will not be a good match," Dr Cheng added, noting that he suggested to her parents that they should try to widen the search for matching bone marrow for their daughter since no matches have been found in China's national bone marrow bank.
Qiqi's parents see no other alternative. "Finding matching bone marrow from a non-relative is like finding a twin brother or sister for Qiqi outside of the family." her mother said.
This family currently faces financial hardship because of Qiqi's disease. In the past 14 months (since June,2007), they have spend some 700,000 yuan (HK$102,190) on the child's treatment.
Qiqi's mother earned 5,000 yuan a month as a gardener but quit her job a year ago to take care of her daughter. The entire financial burden fell on Qiqi's father, Yang, Dongsheng, who works for a law firm and earns roughly the same as his wife in her former job (5,000 yuan a month).
"Although we are not rich, if Qiqi hadn't get sick, we would have had enough for a really good life," the mother said, looking at a picture of Qiqi taken a month ago (May,2007) before she fell ill.
"You see how beautiful she used to be," Li Jianqiang,32,said sadly. Reader, you can see her photos on CHINA DAILY, HONG KONG EDITION, page 20, WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 3, 2008.
"Even if we spend every cent we have, it will be worth it if Qiqi can get well," she added.
In order to cover the blood transfusion fees of almost 20,000 yuan a month, the young couple sold their house in their hometown, of Hengshui county in Hebei province.
They have received some help from a new medical insurance plan instituted for all residents of greater Beijing. Under the plan, the Xiaoguan community where the family lives, will cover 170,000 yuan of Qiqi's medical fees.
"It is a great boost for us, otherwise we would have collapsed already," Madam Li said. However, it is still far from enough. "We'll run out of money by the end of the month(September,2008)," Li added.
Qiqi also has to stay away from many sports activities, including her favorite roller-skating, as any injury may be fatal to her.
Last year(2007), Qiqi spent eight(8) months in isolation, getting a special treatment to stimulate and regenerate her bone marrow.
She had to stop going to primary school, but she did not stop studying.
"In the small isolation room she did her homework. It became her favorite way of killing time, and to also to catch up with her studies," Li said.
When her teachers came to visit, they all praise Qiqi for her remarkable progress, the mother added.
"She is so clever. She knows everything," Qiqi's mother, Li Jianqiang, 32, said with a sigh.
To Dr Cheng, this means Qiqi has a positive attitude which makes all the difference.
"We will never give up. Heaven will some day bless my daughter as she is such a positive and brave girl," the mother said, pointing to her daughter who was staring at the sunshine outside of the window and laughing brightly.
APPEAL: To Help Qiqi, please contact CHINA DAILY, e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org