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Chinese neurosurgeon quits job, sells house to build care center for vegetative patients

(People's Daily Online)    11:20, July 20, 2020

“When a vegetative patient receives good care, a family can be comforted,” said Xiang Jiuda, a Chinese neurosurgeon who quit his job and sold his home to build the first, and so far the only, care center for vegetative patients on the Chinese mainland.

Xiang Jiuda (Source: dongguashipin)

The center, which Xiang established in Beijing in 2015, has received 74 patients over the past five years, of whom 43 have passed away with dignity, thanks to the professional services provided by the staff members there.

Xiang used to be a neurosurgeon of a hospital in Beijing. During his work, he found that when people enter a vegetative state, they and their families are put in very difficult situations.

Hospitals often suggest that the family take the patient home, as they think treatment won’t make a difference, according to Xiang, who revealed that nursing homes don’t accept these patients as they are not able to provide the professional services vegetative patients need.

Many vegetative patients have died at home because of inadequate care, according to Xiang, explaining that families usually don’t have the energy or experience to take long-term care of vegetative patients.

Many families of vegetative patients are thrown into poverty because of the high medical costs, Xiang said.

As he believed that these patients should be cared for by professionals to help relieve the burden on their family, Xiang quit his job in 2015 and set up the country’s first privately-run non-profit care center for vegetative patients.

To raise the startup capital, Xiang sold his house of over 100 square meters in Miyun district, Beijing, and took out a mortgage on another house of his. He spent more than 5 million yuan ($714,500) on the center when it wasn’t making any income.

Xiang hired 20 nurses to take care of the patients in the center. In order to save costs, Xiang, who is the only doctor there, also works as a cook and handles logistics.

Because of the charity care center, a man surnamed An is finally relieved that his wife, who was left in a vegetative state following a car accident, can now receive professional care services at an affordable price.

An’s wife had been in hospital for four months since her accident in January. She did not show any signs of improvement, and the medical costs came to between 400,000 yuan and 500,000 yuan a year, becoming an impossible burden on the ordinary family.

An’s wife is now taken good care of at Xiang’s care center, which only charges the patient 7,500 yuan per month.

Many people didn’t understand Xiang’s motives when he was searching for a site for the center. Some thought that people in vegetative states were basically “half-dead” and would bring bad luck, and refused to rent their houses to Xiang.

“What are you spending so much money on them for? Their lives are meaningless,” some said.

“I don’t think the point is whether their being alive makes a difference or not. What really matters is that we have an equal right to life,” Xiang said. 

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

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