Surgery for 'miracle' survivor Yiyi after injured leg turns gangrenous

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 July, 2011, 12:00am


The 'miracle' survivor of Saturday's high-speed rail crash, Xiang Weiyi , was due to undergo an operation yesterday to remove infected tissue from her injured left leg, while a procession of well-wishers flooded the hospital to bring gifts of toys and cash.

The 2 1/2-year-old girl, affectionately known to family members as 'Yiyi', was pulled from the train wreckage in a controversial rescue 21 hours after the crash, long after emergency teams had abandoned the search for survivors.

Yiyi remains in intensive care at the Wenzhou Medical School Affiliated Children's Hospital, having sustained extensive injuries to her internal organs and a leg which had turned gangrenous.

Medical staff said yesterday they were pleased with her recovery so far, as she had passed a crucial 72-hour period, but it would take a significant amount of time for her leg to heal.

Xiang Yihe, Yiyi's great-uncle who was on watch outside the ICU ward, said the operation was expected to be straightforward.

'She has a certain amount of dead tissue around the wounds on her left leg and [the tissue] needs to be removed,' Xiang said.

'Aside from that, we think she is doing well. She is conscious and lively when we visit her.'

The hospital previously told the South China Morning Post that Yiyi was six years old, referring to her medical information sheet, but Xiang said she was just two and a half.

The story of Yiyi's unexpected rescue on Sunday afternoon provided a glimmer of hope on a day of overwhelming tragedy, but it also quickly raised suspicions about whether the search had been halted prematurely.

Ministry of Railways spokesman Wang Yongping provoked an angry reaction from local journalists at a press conference that night when he tried to sidestep difficult questions by describing Yiyi's discovery as 'simply a miracle'.

Few media have been allowed to see Yiyi and even her family have been advised to minimise visits. 'We have tried to limit it to Yiyi's grandmother, as she is the closest to her, and even she only spends a few hours in the ward each day,' Xiang said.

Yiyi's father Xiang Yuan, 32, and mother Shi Lihong, 30, were both killed in the crash, so family members, most of whom live in Ruian, south of Wenzhou , united to look after her.

'We are a large family, and everyone cares for Yiyi a great deal,' Xiang said. 'When she gets out of hospital she will most likely stay with her grandparents for a time. But as most of us live in the countryside, it may be better for her schooling if she lives with her uncle in Wenzhou city.'

He said a deputy mayor of Wenzhou offered the city's support in 'all aspects' of Yiyi's future.

While the family felt touched by the intense interest in Yiyi, Xiang said the gifts and media attention had become overwhelming. 'The presents are wonderful, but it is becoming too much. We don't have anywhere to keep all these toys,' he said.