|Wu Mengchao, 91 (Shanghai Daily)|
At age eight, Wu Mengchao first took a knife in his hands. Rising at 2am every day, he went to work in the rubber plantations of eastern Malaysia to tap sap from the trees and help support his poor family, who had emigrated from China’s Fujian Province.
Today, the 91-year-old is among China’s most renowned doctors in the field of liver cancer treatment and research.
He is the founder of the Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Hospital, the first and largest hospital of its kind in China. In 2005, Wu was honored as a recipient of the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award, the nation’s highest scientific prize, and even had an asteroid named after him.
“After I received that prize from (then) President Hu Jintao, many people told me I could just retire and rest,” Wu says. “But how could I rest? My dream is to conquer liver cancer. We have achieved a lot, but there is still a long way to go. How could I retire?”
Liver cancer is the No. 2 cancer killer in China, with more than half of all new patients in the world Chinese.
“Liver cancer is very serious, but it is also preventable and treatable,” Wu says. “Do not eat food that has gone bad. Do not drink polluted water. Breathe in fresh air. Get exercise and regular physical check-ups.”
Wu donated his 5-million-yuan (US$816,927) award prize to assisting younger colleagues. He also wrote a letter to then Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, stressing the importance of creating a liver cancer research center.
“With a scalpel, I can save only one patient at a time,” he says. “But with research, we can save thousands of lives.”