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His black lungs and a white heart

By An Baijie in Zhengzhou (China Daily)

13:12, March 27, 2012

Nearly three years ago, Zhang Haichao, a migrant worker, had his chest opened up so samples of his lungs could be tested. He wanted to prove he had black lung. (China Daily/An Baijie)

Zhang Haichao might have the ugliest name card in the world - on the back is a sketch of a man opening up his chest to reveal black lungs.

Nearly three years ago, Zhang had his own chest opened up so samples of his lungs could be tested.

The 31-year-old worker wanted to prove he had pneumoconiosis, a debilitating disease also known as black lung, due to his three-year exposure to dust.

A local government-designated hospital insisted he had tuberculosis, which denied him compensation and free treatment.

His high-profile fight for recognition - which eventually resulted in a 615,000-yuan ($97,300) settlement from the Zhengzhou Zhendong Fireproof Material Factory - also gave him some fame.

Now he is using that fame to help other workers who are seeking help.

"I tried to persuade them not to open their chests because it's harmful to their health," Zhang told China Daily, coughing from time to time.

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