Volunteer doctors revisit quake epicenter

Updated: May 4, 2018 Xinhua Print
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WENCHUAN, Sichuan - Huang Wancai, 50, was relieved when he learned that the mysterious heart pain that has plagued him for two years was no big deal.

He got the good news after undergoing a procedure called coronary arteriography on May 2 in Wenchuan county, Sichuan province, the epicenter of a devastating earthquake nearly 10 years ago.

Han Yaling, a leading expert on cardiovascular disease, flew in with her team from Beijing to perform the procedure. They were among more than 600 medical professionals from across China who volunteered to provide services to residents in commemoration of the disaster that killed more than 80,000 people.

"We just performed the first coronary arteriography in Wenchuan. The advanced operation is very effective," Han said. "All the patient felt during the entire operation was a slight sting."

During the procedure, Han explained in great detail to local doctors how it should be done, as well as how to operate the imported angiography machine. The hospital also livestreamed the operation so that other community-level doctors could learn.

"Doctors from across the country not only brought health to patients in Wenchuan but also helped improve the medical expertise of local doctors," said Wang Songbai, director of People's Hospital of Wenchuan.

In the aftermath of the Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008, thousands of volunteers, including many medical professionals, went to the worst-affected regions to help.

Among the ruins of collapsed buildings, a project called Create China Heart was initiated to keep the volunteer spirit alive. In subsequent years, it grew to become one of China's signature volunteer projects, providing free medical assistance to more than 500,000 people in poor and remote regions.

Nearly 10 years later, the same spirit remains in the mountainous regions of Wenchuan, which has seen top doctors treat the sick, provide free medicine to villagers and teach less experienced local doctors.

"I am greatly heartened by the happy life of the local people," said Wang Gesheng, a neuropathic expert from Beijing who participated in the campaign. "The medical standards here have improved immensely since I first came 10 years ago."

On Tuesday morning, he visited a village 6 kilometers from the county center and treated more than 30 patients.

"I am very happy I can receive the free medical check," said villager Dong Wanxiang, after being assured that the pain she's been having was a normal symptom of an operation she had a while back. "I am no longer worried."

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