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System needed to help patients (2)

By He Dan (China Daily)

08:31, January 31, 2013

No official figures are available on how many parents in China have lost their only child, but experts suggest it could be as many as 2 million.

Shi Hui is a Beijing mother whose only son died from lymph cancer as a sophomore in college two years ago.

She is the administrator for a group account on QQ dedicated for parents who have lost their only child.

She has urged those who have also lost their single child to donate to the couple.

"We went to the hospital on Sunday and collected about 11,000 yuan for them," she said.

"Their experience upset us, but also reminded us an accident like this can occur to any of us.

"Society is paying more attention to this kind of case, and the government has provided monthly living subsidies in the past — but a lot of problems remain unsolved," said Shi, who is now campaigning for the creation of a fund for childless parents who face huge medical and nursing expenses.

Du Peng, a director of the Gerontology Institute at Renmin University of China, said the government should speed up the creation of a support system for parents in similar situations.

A legal framework must be set up, for instance, to allow legal guardians to be chosen to protect the interests and rights of older people, who become too old or sick to take care of themselves, Du said.

The latest amendment of laws governing senior citizens' rights, which is expected to take effect in July, will provide the legal basis for the government to act, he added.

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