Farmer cuts off his own feet after being unable to afford frostbite treatment

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 May, 2014, 5:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 May, 2014, 9:16am

A farmer from Anhui was forced to amputate his own feet because he could not afford 10,000 yuan for hospital surgery, after suffering untreatable infections brought on by frost-bite.

Liu Dunhe, a villager from a small town in Anhui province, 44, used “shards of broken glass” to amputate his feet after suffering unbearable pain, The Beijing News reported.

Liu suffered frost-bite to both feet last winter after tending to his farm bare-footed, but did not pay attention to the ailment at first. His condition quickly deteriorated and his feet soon became swollen, infected and the tissue eventually began to rot – inflicting tremendous pain.

When he visited a local hospital and was told he needed surgery to amputate both feet that cost over 10,000 yuan, Liu decided to take measures into his own hands and attempt the operation himself.

Liu, who doesn’t have a family and lives by himself, carried out the operation, which he described as “six hours of torment”, in secrecy.

“I used the glass to repeatedly cut through my muscle tendon. It was astonishingly painful,” he was cited recalling the gruesome process.

“I had to swallow some alcohol to try to anesthetise myself when I couldn't stand the pain [during the process],” he told the newspaper but added the amputation “was a release”.

He later told his brother about his plight when his wounds became infected due to a lack of follow up care, causing him further pain. 

After hearing about the tragic event, local village officials took Liu to a district hospital and raised 23,000 yuan to cover his medical expenses.

Liu received further remedial surgery at the hospital and was given anti-inflammatory treatment on Tuesday. He is expected to be discharged from hospital within two weeks.

Liu was cited as saying that he did not enrol in the voluntary health insurance pla because he didn’t think he would need it, saying that it was a waste of money.

According to the district health authority, a medical insurance plan that costs 70 yuan a year could provide a coverage of up to 70 per cent of medical expenses for its subscribers.

Local village officials have since subscribed Liu to a state health insurance plan and a handicap subsidy.

Liu’s case mirrors another gruesome case highlighting the plight of the poor who are often unable to afford proper medical treatment.

Last October, an impoverished Hebei villager, Zheng Yanliang, used a saw and a fruit knife to almost sever his entire right leg after suffering large areas of infection following a rare disease. He was also cited as undertaking the operation himself as he could not afford hospital surgery.

Zheng had sought medical help in Baoding and Beijing for a sudden artery blockage affecting his legs but was told he would not survive the surgery. While his family was away, he cut off his left foot at the ankle and severed his right leg at the thigh.

The revelation triggered an outpouring of sympathy from the public, who raised some 360,000 yuan in donatations to help with his medical treatment. The villager is now able to walk with the aid of artificial limbs thanks to follow-up treatment and remedial care.