Tuesday, August 26, 2008

China quake survivor, now disabled, plans for future

From The Standard in Hong Kong:

Teenage Sichuan earthquake survivor Yang Liu - who had both legs amputated below the knee so she could be pulled from the ruins of her collapsed school - is dreaming of a university place in Hong Kong.

Brave Yang, 18, who spent 70 hours in the rubble after the May 12 quake and had her limbs removed without anesthesia, hopes to study chemistry and will visit Hong Kong University and Polytechnic University during her six-day trip to the territory.

Also on the itinerary for the wheelchair-bound teen are the more touristy spots, including Ocean Park, Disneyland and Lan Kwai Fong. She also plans to watch China's Olympic gold medalists who are set for a Hong Kong show on August 30.

The plucky teen, described by mainland media as "the poorest girl in the Sichuan earthquake," said Hong Kong was beautiful and she was happy about her first visit out of the mainland.

Yang, in Hong Kong courtesy of District 303 of the Lions Club International, will also visit some rehabilitation organizations.

Her health is now stable after several therapy sessions, and she will soon be fitted with artificial limbs.

Doctors took only about 20 minutes to remove her legs during the hasty on- site operation. With her legs crushed under tonnes of rubble, rescuers had feared infection would set in and prove fatal. Yang accepted her fate without complaint.

Disability, however, has not dampened the earthquake victim's hunger for learning.

Yang wants to complete her studies in a Shenzhen high school, which will give her a chance to enter university in Hong Kong.

Both of Yang's parents survived the magnitude 8 quake, as did her 11-year- old sister, but the family home was wrecked.

Yang recalled the events of May 12.

She and her classmates were having lessons when the quake struck.

Her parents' love and happy memories of being with friends kept her alive for those 70 hours, she said.

"For the dreams, hopes and care of my parents and friends, I have to survive," Yang kept repeating to herself.

But the ordeal - and the screams and moans of her classmates - stuck in her mind long after the quake. Many of those classmates never made it.

Yang became depressed but, with the encouragement of doctors, her will to live revived.

"I am still alive. When there is life, there is a way. Without my legs, I can still study in the university," Yang told herself.

To help her dreams come true, the Lions Club has given her a wheelchair and a notebook computer, while ReHabAid Society will provide free physical evaluation.

Meanwhile, a volunteer medical team in cooperation with the Beijing Disabled Persons Federation and the ReHabAid Society of the Polytechnic University will be going to Sichuan in September and October.