Father of sick child offers rides to passers-by

Emma Woollacott
·2-min read
Mr Chen in the street
Mr Chen in the street

Wearing a horse-head helmet, 38-year-old Chen Yuntao sits on the street in Hefei, in East China's Anhui province, offering to let people ride on his back.

He's charging five yuan - about 54p - per ride, in a bid to raise money to treat his sick nine-year-old son.

Chen, a construction worker, earns a total of 2,000 yuan (£216) per month, which won't cover his son's treatment for leukaemia. Until now, he's borrowed from banks and family members.

"We've spent more than 200,000 yuan in order to save my son. Now I owe debts of 160,000 yuan," Chen tells the Jianghuai Morning Post. "We can reclaim 90% of the fees through [medical insurance for] serious illnesses, but I still need about 50,000 yuan."

Chen Minghao was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in December 2011, and had 20 courses of chemotherapy. But during a routine check-up in March, his family was told his cancer had returned.

The next course of treatment for his son, a transplant of umbilical cord blood, will cost between 400,000 and 500,000 yuan - of which Chen will have to find 10%.

When Chen first started begging at the entrance to a subway, officials swiftly appeared and told him he'd have to move along. But when he explained the situation, they offered to help find him a better spot.

"I saw others raising funds in the street using a sign so I gave it a try. If it wasn't the very last resort I would never have considered begging on the street," he told the People's Daily Online.

"In the village I saw children paying to ride on horses, so I thought I could pretend to be a horse and offer rides to raise money for my son. For my son I will gladly do anything."

Encouragingly, Chen has received a number of donations, although nobody has taken him up on the offer of a ride.

And users of Sina Weibo, China's home-grown version of Twitter, are raising awareness of Chen's plight. There have been calls to set up an international fund-raising site.

"Many people around me have offered helping hands. Please help them if you can," writes @qianlichanyuan.

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China's Healthcare Problems
China's Healthcare Problems