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Love story of Zhang Dingyu, medical expert awarded national honorary title “the People’s Hero”

(People's Daily Online)    19:11, September 21, 2020

Zhang Dingyu, head of Wuhan’s designated coronavirus-treating Jinyintan Hospital, was awarded “the People’s Hero,” a national honorary title, for his extraordinary contributions in the fight against COVID-19 on Sept. 8.

Zhang Dingyu, Cheng Lin and their daughter take a photo at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing. (Photo/Changjiang Daily)

At the awarding ceremony, tears welled up in his wife Cheng Lin’s eyes. Behind the honorary title, their love story has warmed the hearts of many people.

In 1987, Cheng, at 18 years old, became a nurse at Wuhan No.4 Hospital after graduating from nursing school, while Zhang, at 24 years old, was working as a resident doctor at the anesthesiology department of the hospital for one year.

Zhang Dingyu, Cheng Lin and their daughter take a photo before Zhang leaves for Algeria. (Photo/Changjiang Daily)

After meeting for the first time at the end of that year when Cheng rotated into Zhang’s department, they soon fell in love with each other. “He was especially fond of studying. He went home by bike to have dinner every day and then went back to the hospital to study late into the night,” Cheng recalled, noting that she felt her heart flip at the first sight of Zhang.

Since Cheng had to work late at night, Zhang would usually deliver meals to her for dinner and escort her home.

Cheng recalled that Zhang gave her an unforgettable surprise on her first birthday after the start of their relationship by presenting her with a bundle of flowers at a time when there were few flower shops in Wuhan. Followed by an even bigger surprise, they enjoyed Western food for dinner that night. “He is romantic,” Cheng said, adding that they would often attend vocal concerts.

Zhang puts this photo of Cheng on his desk in Algeria. (Photo/Changjiang Daily)

After marrying Zhang at 23 years old, Cheng has always offered unconditional support to her husband, who has stood on the frontlines over the past several years.

In December 1997, Zhang, 34 years old at the time, became a member of a Chinese medical aid team in Algeria. During his two years in Algeria, Zhang often wrote letters to reassure his wife and to express his love to her. During that period, they had more than 120 correspondences. “When I felt lonely, I would read her letters over and over again,” Cheng said.

In 2008, after the devastating Wenchuan earthquake, Zhang led a medical team from Hubei province to help victims in southwest China’s Sichuan province.

Zhang sends this photo he took in Algeria to Cheng, with a note on the back telling her Algerians wrap newborns in exactly the same way with Chinese. (Photo/Changjiang Daily)

From the end of 2010 to early 2011, he took part in an international rescue in Pakistan for three months and became the first doctor from Hubei Province to join the international medical charity Doctors Without Borders.

In October 2017, Zhang was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an incurable progressive neurological disorder which results in weakened muscles that will cause him to progressively lose muscle strength. Since then, Cheng has always taken care of him.

Cheng Lin donates 400ml of blood plasma on Feb. 18 after recovering from the novel coronavirus.

As this hero doctor continues to struggle in the fight against this disease day and night, Cheng’s heart broke after noticing her husband’s health has worsened since the outbreak of the epidemic.

“I can’t share his pain. I can only spend more time accompanying him and taking good care of him. When he comes home, I will always be there,” Cheng said.

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(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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