Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year heartache for migrant worker with leukaemia

Han Yahui, who’s been told she might have only six months to live, won’t be going home to Henan to see her son this Spring Festival

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2017, 12:36pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 2:39pm

The Lunar New Year family reunion is the annual highlight for most migrant workers after a year of working away from home.

But 26-year-old migrant worker Han Yahui is not heading home to Henan province this year, for what might be her last Spring Festival. She was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in October and has been told she might have only six months to live.

She misses her four-year-old son, who lives in her husband’s hometown of Nanyang, also in Henan, but she is spending the Lunar New Year holiday in Shenzhen this year.

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The cheeks on her round face rosy from a post-chemotherapy fever, Han was recently discharged from

the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital.

“I will spend most of my Lunar New Year resting at home here,” she said.

“My son is being cared for by my mother-in-law. He is too young to understand what is going on but he keeps asking if I need to get more injections.”

After a few days of rest, Han has to go to hospital for her third round of chemotherapy. But her thoughts are for her son.

“It’s very sad. Every other kid is with their parents except my son. If the doctor allows, I will return home to see him soon as I can but I am not sure when,” she said. “I just want to hang on as long as I can.”

Han worked at Foxconn in Shenzhen for three years repairing tablets, but passed out at work in October. She was rushed to hospital and eventually diagnosed with acute leukaemia.

Doctors asked Han to immediately seek a bone marrow transplant from a family member but that quest turned her life upside down when she learned she was adopted. Desperate for a son, her biological father in Zhumadian, Henan, gave her up for adoption because she was his third daughter.

After she approached her biological father for a bone marrow transplant, he visited her and agreed to pass the request on to her two sisters and a younger brother, who is studying in Henan to become a doctor.

However, her hopes dimmed as her biological father gradually became harder to reach.

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“He said my two sisters, who are married, were not allowed by their husbands’ families to try for a match and that my little brother was too busy preparing for graduate school,” Han said. “They told me to undergo chemotherapy and try the China Marrow Donor Programme first.”

The programme has facilitated 6,000 transplants since 2003.

Han has now lost all her hair, all contact with her biological family and all hope. She said her body was not responding well after two rounds of chemotherapy and seeking a bone marrow transplant was no longer a priority.

“My doctor told me I have about six months,” she said. “If I continue with chemotherapy, I might still be able to take care of my daily routines in the remaining days.

“My [biological] father will not even pick up my calls. My siblings even changed their WeChat contact information despite offering them 50,000 yuan if there was a successful match. Now I don’t know how to reach them any more.

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“If the worst comes to the worst, I’ll pack up everything and go home. People say I could try Chinese medicine and try to live as long as I can.”

Han said her biological father had told her she was “useless for failing to make it into university and marrying a poor husband”.

“I want my son to study hard and not become helpless like me,” she said. “I don’t blame my father. It is common for Chinese family members to refuse to donate bone marrow even if they live together.

“I only wish my son will grow up to be a healthy man and my [adoptive] parents will live comfortably. I have been too much of a burden to them.”

Han’s next chemotherapy is scheduled for early February and she is struggling to pay her medical bills.