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People's Daily Online>>China Society

For boy, mom pushes past the pain barrier

By Zheng Jinran  (China Daily)

09:27, December 06, 2011

Guo Liqing attempts to calm down her 4-year-old son Wang Zining, who cries in pain whenever ointment is rubbed into his newly grafted skin. The family lives in Xingtang, Hebei province. (China Daily Photo)

XINGTANG, Hebei - Wang Zining sat naked in a small basin half-filled with hot water that smelled strongly of herbs.

Dotted all over the 4-year-old's body are brown moles, some as large as an adult's fist, which have been growing since he was born.

On his back is also a swollen layer of newly grafted skin, which was donated by his mother, Guo Liqing, in June.

Like many rural parents, Guo decided to save money by going without anesthetic when surgeons removed a 2,000-sq-cm patch of skin from her stomach. She even refused to take painkillers afterward, as she was unwilling to spend the 400 yuan ($60) for each prescription.

"We couldn't afford to use donated skin, and my husband needed to take care of my elder son and us after the surgery," said Guo, 38. "I was the only candidate."

While Zining soaked in his tub, his father sat waiting on a kang, a brick bed that is heated from underneath by a wood fire, in a corner of the family's home in Xingtang county, North China's Hebei province.

"When we first found the moles were getting bigger, the doctor told us they would not affect his life," said Guo, as she carefully rubbed her son's back with a sponge. "He's smart, and he was singing simple nursery rhymes when he was just 1. Yet, no other children would play with him; they were all scared of how he looked and called him dirty."

When Zining was taken for tests early this year at a hospital in Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital, his parents were told what they had always feared - if untreated, the moles could lead to cancer in later years. According to experts, the child suffers from a rare congenital disease that occurs annually in three or four children from every 10,000. The most effective cure is a series of skin grafts, with the moles removed and replaced with two layers of healthy tissue.

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