Man hospitalized years after amputating own leg

Updated: 2013-10-13 02:59


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Man hospitalized years after amputating own leg

Zheng Yanliang demonstrates how he amputated his diseased leg himself about a year and a half ago in Baoding, Hebei province, Oct 10, 2013. [Photo/CFP]

SHIJIAZHUANG - A Chinese man has been hospitalized soon after media reports revealed his horrific story of amputating his diseased leg himself about a year and a half ago.

Zheng Yanliang, a peasant from north China's Hebei Province, was taken to the No. 2 Hospital of Baoding, a city 150 km northeast of provincial capital Shijiazhuang, on Friday afternoon for medical observation and further treatment.

Zheng received medical examinations on Saturday, and doctors are working on plans for his further treatment, according to Ge Changqing, director of the hospital.

In a case that has exposed shortcomings in China's medical assistance mechanism, the 47-year-old cut off his almost necrotic right leg with a knife and a hacksaw on April 14, 2012 after local hospitals either refused to take him in or demanded exorbitant fees.

"One hospital asked us to pay 300,000 yuan (49,000 U.S. dollars) as an advance deposit, and we were told that follow-up medical treatment would cost more than 1 million yuan, which was far beyond our financial means," Zheng's wife, Shen Zhonghong, told Xinhua.

Zheng used to work slack seasons at a local brick kiln, earning no more than 1,000 yuan a month.

He was diagnosed with arterial thrombosis of the lower limbs in early 2012 after aches in his buttocks and thighs left him hardly able to walk.

After retreating from hospitals, where doctors said he could only survive for three more months, Zheng began pinning his hopes on conservative therapy, which meant he had to resort to shots to relieve his pain.

However, his disease quickly deteriorated, with his legs beginning to fester.

On April 11, three days before he amputated his leg, he even noticed maggots crawling out of his festering muscles, impelling him to summon the guts and make his final decision.

Zheng said he did not feel much pain when cutting into his muscles, and little blood spilled out due to the clotting. "But when the hacksaw went deeper to cut the bones, the pain was unbearable. I had to bite a bamboo chip bundled with toweling to endure it."

Zheng's other leg is also in a terrible state and his left foot has already completely festered away.

Zheng was left in this misery because of healthcare loopholes.

Although he is covered under a rural cooperative medical system that enables farmers to afford basic hospital services, he would have had to accept hospitalization and pay the costs up front in order to claim them back.

His story, after it was broken on Thursday by local newspaper the Yanzhao Evening News, has triggered wide discussion on the Internet and a flood of donations.p   The Red Cross societies in Baoding and Hebei Province have given 25,000 yuan to Zheng, bringing the total donations to more than 50,000 within only a few days.

Baoding Hospital's Ge said that all of the amputee's hospital expenses would be exempted.

Over 96 percent of China's total rural population has access to the new rural cooperative medical insurance, but only common diseases are covered, said Guo Shuqin, deputy director of the Baoding Health Bureau and president of Baoding No.1 Center Hospital.

Zheng's particular disease cannot be covered by the low-level, wide-reaching medical insurance, Guo said.

China's medical insurance also covers 70 percent of medical costs for 20 serious diseases, including cancer and cerebrovascular diseases, but Zheng's condition is not among the 20 covered diseases, Guo added.

Guo suggested the government provide funds for such rare diseases.

The government is also obliged to inform the public, especially rural residents, that they should report their problems to relevant departments and ask for assistance, according to Guo, who also called on China to roll out some assistance policies.