Help arrives for parents who manually kept paralysed son breathing

The elderly parents took turns squeezing a pump 18 times a minute, 25,920 times a day, continuously for most of the past seven years.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 11:16am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 12:07pm

They took turns squeezing a pump 18 times a minute, 25,920 times a day, continuously for most of the past seven years. They knew the minute they stopped or stepped away, their son who could no longer breathe on his own would die.

They couldn’t afford a 100,000 yuan (HK$123,000) respiratory machine, but they couldn’t afford to lose their son either.

Fu Minzu and Wang Lanqin, an elderly and poor couple in China’s eastern Zhejiang province who fought a lonely battle to keep their son alive, have received aid from a local hospital that offered to pay for a new breathing machine and agreed to treat Fu Xuepeng without charge, reported Xinhua state news agency on Wednesday.

The news came after the heart-wrenching story widely reported in Chinese media outraged people across the country.

While sympathetic netizens started fund-raisers to relieve the couple from their financial hardship, many lashed out at the local government which critics say failed to provide the family necessary medical aid.

Fu Xuepeng was paralysed in a car accident in 2006 at the age of 23. After being told he would spend the rest of his life in bed, the elderly couple decided to give up work to attend to him full time at home.

Living on social welfare and unable to afford a breathing machine, they had to use a resuscitator, a device consisting of a mask and a hand-squeezed plastic bulb, to keep their son alive. 

The couple said they had to squeeze the pump 18 times a minute to keep him breathing.  They have worn out six pumps in the past five years.

“I don’t know if I will have an opportunity in this life to repay my parents,” said Fu Xuepeng during a recent visit by reporters.

Once a relative made a diesel-powered machine to help the son breathe and spare the couple of the tedious labour. The machine was noisy and shabby, but it worked temporarily.

The couple said they stopped using the machine after they found out it would generate a montly electricity fee of 200 yuan. 

The story was widely talked about on China's social media even after the couple received aid from the government. 

“Why did it take five years for them to get help?” said a netizen on China’s Twitter-like servce Sina Weibo.

“What about more tragic families who are not covered by the media?" said another netizen. “How will they get help?”