A photoset of a sobbing single mother who had been discharged from a Chinese hospital after she could no longer afford care for her sick child has gone viral for its heartbreaking vulnerability and emotion.
The scene outside Shanghai’s Children Hospital was first captured in December last year, but is going viral again on Chinese social media platforms.
It raked thousands of comments early this week, reigniting discussions on the difficult reality of healthcare in China.
The mother in the photos, 45-year-old Guo Yinzhen, has been a single parent since her divorce several years ago. She has been the sole caretaker of her son, three-year-old Guo Zhenghan, in a village in Datian county, Fujian province.
Yinzhen was a factory worker but lost her job after giving birth to Zhenghan. The mother and son have been supported by her parents, who pluck tea leaves for a living.
As per Sina News, Zhenghan is suffering from congenital hydrocephalus. He was brought to the hospital after contracting an infection.
Unfortunately, expenses ballooned and left the pair with no choice but to leave the hospital when they could no longer afford treatment.
As it turned out, Yinzhen needed around 100,000 yuan (over $15,000) for further treatment, but the family was already overburdened with debts amounting to $47,000.
Overall, they have spent at least 400,000 yuan (over $60,000) for Zhenghan’s treatment, which included three surgeries and previous hospitalizations.
The story has prompted conversations about China’s healthcare, which happens to be related to hukou, or household registration system.
According to What’s on Weibo, government-subsidized rural medical insurance is not applicable in a different province, so patients like Zhenghan must shoulder their own expenses when traveling for treatment.
Fortunately, their photos taken on December 1 immediately went viral, and by December 5, they were back in Shanghai with the help of the Xiaoxingxin Foundation. Through their assistance, Zhenghan was able to undergo another necessary operation.
In an update, the foundation also announced that his infection was gone and his brain development was “looking good.”
Get well soon, Zhenghan!
Featured Images via Kuaibao