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Once-disfigured man starts a new life

(China Daily)    10:24, September 14, 2018

A doctor treats Zhao Xuecheng at the Third Hospital of Wuhan after removing bandages. [Photo/China Daily]

A man in Wuhan, Hubei province, who has lived for 23 years with a face disfigured by burns as an infant, finished his eighth and final surgical procedure on Tuesday and is ready to start a new life.

After the surgery, 90 percent of the scars on Zhao Xuecheng's face are essentially gone, with only some remnants of surgical incisions remaining.

"After a year and a half of treatment, I was relieved of a great burden. I became much more relaxed after each surgery. I want to find a job now and take a good look at the world," Zhao said.

Li Xianyu and Zhao Liniu, Zhao Xuecheng's foster parents from Xiangyang, Hubei province, now in their 60s, adopted him as a baby after finding him, disfigured by burns and abandoned in bushes, in January 1995.

Though struggling to make ends meet by planting and selling vegetables and having little savings, the couple decided to look after Zhao. They took the boy to a hospital but could not afford the cost of plastic surgery, which would have been tens of thousands of yuan.

As the couple grew older, they worried about the future of their son, who couldn't find a job because of his disfigurement. Using up their entire savings of 30,000 yuan ($4,400), they took Zhao to Chongqing for surgery in 2017. The results weren't as good as expected, and there was no more money left.

They turned to the burn department of the Third Hospital of Wuhan. Because of the difficulty of the surgery, the hospital provided a detailed "face-changing" surgical plan and helped secure a donation of 200,000 yuan through the Hubei Charity Federation.

Since March 2017, Zhao had eight operations. The most recent one should be the last.

The department director, Xie Weiguo, said: "We have always encouraged Zhao to step out into society. Even if his appearance does not recover to the level of ordinary people, he should embrace his life courageously. We all hope he will gain knowledge and learn new skills, adapt to society and make significant achievements. We also hope that everyone will have more tolerance and understanding for people like him."

For the first time, Zhao saw a clear face of his own in the mirror. It is a new beginning.

"My parents used to worry that I wouldn't be able to make a living by myself in the future," Zhao said. "But I am now confident that I can have a wonderful life, even if I am alone."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Bianji, Liang Jun)

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