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Mother with terminally-ill baby accused of scam

By Zhang Wen (Global Times)

13:35, April 18, 2013

A Sina Weibo post claiming a subway commuter gave hundreds of yuan to a woman carrying an infant purportedly battling cancer has divided microbloggers, with some alleging it was part of an elaborate sting to persuade passengers to donate.

"I saw a mother holding a baby with an intravenous drip. He has bladder cancer at such a young age! A middle-aged woman gave the baby's mother 600 yuan ($97), prompting other passengers to also donate. The subway carriage was filled with love," read the post accompanied by a photo and uploaded Tuesday night by a man surnamed Qian.

The donor became aware of the baby's medical condition after chatting to the mother, who was not begging. After the woman gave the mother money, a male commuter followed suit by giving 100 yuan, Qian told the Global Times.

Qian's post had been forwarded nearly 2,000 times and attracted hundreds of comments by press time.

While many Web users lauded the good Samaritan, some pointed out the photo showed the IV drip was not attached to the infant, sparking claims it had been a scam to con other commuters into giving money.

The mother of the baby, surnamed Ke and originally from Jiangxi Province, told the Global Times her son was born in November 2011.

He was diagnosed with cancer at four months old, she added.

Yang Yong, director of the urology department at Beijing Cancer Hospital in Haidian district, noted it was "extremely rare" for such a young child to suffer bladder cancer.

"It usually affects elderly people exposed to chemicals over a long time. I've never come across nor even read of such a case before. We need more information to judge this case," Yang, a doctor with 30 years' experience, told the Global Times Wednesday.

Shi Changkui, a charity expert and vice director of the management research center at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the public skepticism was natural given publicized past scams based on similar ploys.

"There are always people who use young children to make money. Sometimes people are skeptical toward those who genuinely need help," he said.

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