Chinese man struggling to pay medical bills finds a saviour on social media

Online post about ‘honourable’ man trying to earn money to pay for dialysis helps him raise 300,000 yuan

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 July, 2017, 6:49pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 July, 2017, 7:56pm

Social media has come to the rescue of a Chinese man with kidney failure who was struggling to cover the cost of his treatment, a local newspaper reported.

After being diagnosed with uremia, Ma Gang, 31, relocated to Beijing in 2006 for medical help, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

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The condition means he has to have dialysis three times a week, which he does at Guanganmen Hospital. While his medical insurance covers half the cost of the treatment, Ma and his family still have to find 5,760 yuan (US$850) a month to cover the remainder, as well as a further 3,500 yuan for the rent on their small apartment in the city’s Xicheng district, the report said.

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As a way to makes ends meet, since 2014, Ma and his family have sold handicrafts on the street outside the hospital and via a small online store run on the social media app WeChat. While their efforts generated some funds, it was not until recently that business really boomed, the report said.

After seeing Ma, who also has a spinal cord tumour, sitting outside the hospital, a passer-by was moved to write about him on Weibo, China’s microblogging service.

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“A poor man sitting in a wheelchair outside the [Guanganmen] hospital is making sandals and selling some small items,” the person, identified only as Xichenglu, wrote.

“[I] heard that he has to have dialysis three times a week. His medical insurance covers 50 per cent of the cost and the rest he has to pay himself,” it said.

“After seeing so many people that have houses and cars trying to get sympathy by acting poor, I found him honourable and respectful.”

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The sentiment resonated with the public. Xichenglu’s words were reposted almost 30,000 times and garnered more than 63,000 “likes”.

More importantly, in the 10 days after the post went viral, Ma received more than 4,000 orders worth about 300,000 yuan through his online shop.

“Now I am a bit pressured, and worried whether I can finish these orders or not,” he was quoted as saying.

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Despite Ma’s difficulties, he has always been generous to other people in need, the report said.

Li Caihong, who has also been visiting Guanganmen Hospital for many years, said Ma taught her how to make and sell her own handicrafts.

“Ma is a really nice person,” she said.