12-year-old leukemia patient dies; mother plans to return remainder of donation to public
She was dubbed “grateful girl,” because after she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the end of 2009 and received donation from her school, she felt obliged to express her gratitude. She went back to school to thank classmates and teachers who helped her, and in front of the entire school, she delivered a speech titled “Last Yearning at the End of My Life”.
Ge Wenqian (葛文倩), a 12-year-old from Dafeng, China’s eastern Jiangsu Province, died on March 3, 2011.
On the evening of March 2, Ge Wenqian began to feel severe pain in teeth, mouth and legs. But as a sensible girl, she made great effort to rally the last bit of energy in her. Perhaps she could tell her life is about to come to an end, she tried to console her mother by saying, “Mom, please get another baby. Then the two of us can take care of you. You will not be alone.”
After 12 p.m. on March 3, Ge Wenqian suddenly experienced respiratory failure and chest pain. Her mother Ding Longzhu (丁龙珠) immediately supplied breathing gas to her. “Mom, I feel very comfortable. I want to fall asleep…” Soon after she uttered these words, she closed her eyes forever.
Yesterday, grief-stricken Ding Longzhu buried her daughter. She said that she once uploaded pictures of her daughter receiving treatment and in great pain, but she deleted them recently. “I don’t want people to see my daughter’s pain. I just want people to remember her lovable and sunny face.”
On December 2, 2009, fourth grader Ge Wenqian was diagnosed with leukemia. The treatment not only cost her family fortunes but landed them in crippling debts. After her elementary school learned of the news, they raised funds of 40,000 yuan (US$6,000) for her. But with all the money they scraped together, it was barely enough for only one therapy. The family decided to give up on medical treatment.
However, Ge Wenqian had yet another wish: she wanted to say “Thank you” to teachers and students at her school who helped her. On June 12, 2010, Ge Wenqian arrived at school. In front of over 900 people, she delivered a speech, during which she wept several times.
Last Yearning at the End of My Life
Classmates, brothers and sisters, hello!
I am Ge Wenqian from Class I, Grade 4. Today, I’ve come here to meet everyone with very mixed feelings. I feel I have many things to talk to you at the mere thought that I may only have a few months left. Standing here, I have gratitude, yearning, as well as guilt and a little bit of fear in my heart.
Since I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the end of 2009, life of my entire family has been entangled in a mess. Because of this disease, my dad and mom left behind everything at hand and brought me to Dafeng, Nantong and Suzhou to see a doctor. They spent all money our family had and even turned to all relatives to borrow money. Thanks to our school principal and teachers who organized donation for my treatment. Here, I am going to bow to you with deep gratitude from me and my parents.
In the past half year, I’ve seen many children who are suffering from leukemia at Children’s Hospital affiliated with Soochow University. (Jing: in Suzhou) Some of them have left this world. I know that my illness costs a lot of money to treat. A family like mine is not able to afford. In the last days of my life, I have a lot to say.
“If your life had only one day left. How would you arrange it?” This question came from an uncle. I said that I would be with my family. The most precious time should be left to dad and mom, because they have sacrificed too much for me.
If there were a second life, I would still be dad and mom’s good daughter and not let them worry or tire them out.
On June 17, the picture of Ge Wenqian with pale complexion and bead bold from chemotherapy was featured in the front page of Yangtse Evening Post, the most influential newspaper in Jiangsu Province with a circulation of over 1.8 million. The terminally ill and yet grateful girl immediately grabbed countless readers’ hearts. In five days since the publication of the news story, contributions of money to help her fight cancer amounted to over 600,000 yuan (US$92,300). It comes from all over the country as well as countries such as Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. A couple from Taizhou donated 20,000. An octogenarian couple brought 20,000 yuan. Six people from Changzhou travelled together there and gave over 60,000. In the end, 1.03 million yuan (US$158,000) was raised from home and abroad.
The outpouring of love and help gave Ge Wenqian some hope. Last August, Ding Longzhu transferred her daughter from Suzhou to Beijing Children’s Hospital, which has better facilities, in a bid to cure her leukemia through bone marrow transplant. However, Ge Wenqian’s health was worsening. Fever, infection, sepsis were plaguing her. Therefore, even though a match was found in China’s bone marrow pool, transplant was not viable.
Before this Chinese New Year, the medical experts at Beijing Children’s Hospital told Ding Longzhu that whatever treatment has little chance to cure Ge Wenqian. On February 12, the family returned to their hometown.
“Experts said it is a miracle that our daughter could manage to live to this day. If it were not for the kind-hearted people, our daughter might have been gone for a long time…” Ding Longzhu said that she had been using a thick notebook to note down the contributors. After she is done with Ge Wenqian’s funeral affairs, she would make public contributions and the expenses. The rest 90,000 yuan would be donated to a charity group to help people in need like her daughter.