The Wuhan coronavirus has claimed at least 213 lives in China and continues to spread around the world. While the news of deaths and new cases is heartbreaking, the reality is almost unbearable for those who have lost loved ones.
The website of a Chinese television network, Phoenix Television, shared one Wuhan girl’s story of how she lost her mother to the coronavirus on the first day of Chinese New Year, a day meant to symbolise newness, hope, and happiness. As if that were not distressing enough, her brother and father are also infected and are battling for their lives.
This Facebook post is a translation of the girl’s touching story:
"My Mom Passed Away in an Isolated Ward in Wuhan." – A retelling of a Wuhan resident so powerful The article is from…
In early January, the excitement to welcome the Year of the Rat was palpable across China, including in Wuhan, Hubei province, ground zero of the coronavirus.
Qian Qian, the girl at the heart of our story, shares that her mother was at a hospital in Wuhan, having just undergone lung surgery on Jan 17.
On Jan 21, Qian Qian and family were shocked to hear that her mother had contracted the new virus, which posed complications to her recovery from the surgery.
“The hospital where Mom underwent surgery was not in Hankou, and none of us had visited the Huanan seafood market where the virus reportedly originated,” she wrote.
Qian Qian and her brother tried to visit their mother, but their dad insisted that they stay away, for fear of infection.
“I was still worried and wanted to go see her. I just had this thought that I had to see Mom and Dad and that I had to make sure that they are there because I had no idea what was happening. We were just gone for a day, how did it come to this? I was afraid, afraid that I might not see them again,” she shared.
Qian Qian’s father had not been diagnosed at the time, so he volunteered to take care of his wife. But Qian Qian and her brother had their misgivings.
“Should Dad go take care of Mom? If not, Mom will not be able to go to the bathroom, won’t be able to eat by herself. After Mom was put in an isolation ward, the hospital had forbidden takeout food and stopped supplying food, and my brother would be at risk if he was the one to deliver food. But if he didn’t, Mom will starve. How do we choose?”
On Jan 22, Qian Qian’s dad went for tests to see if he was infected with the coronavirus. When the results came out negative, the family was ecstatic. But, sadly, he had misread the results — he was indeed infected with the virus.
“He was devastated and absolutely would not stay in the same room as me … We have always been so close, and now we had to sit in 2 separate cars talking to each other not knowing where to go.”
“None of the calls I made were of any use,” she wrote.
As if things were not devastating enough, Qian Qian’s brother, too, tested positive for the virus, but no hospital would take him in.
On the night of Jan 24, just before the city lockdown, Qian Qian drove to Hankou to purchase some immunoglobulin (antibodies that aid in the destruction of bacteria and viruses), which was exorbitantly priced at ￥800 (S$157.5) a bottle.
“On the way home, I drove very fast so I could get back before the lockdown. I checked my watch and it was 12, the Year of the Rat and the Spring Festival had officially arrived. But there was nothing festive in Wuhan.
“I called Brother to wish him ‘Happy New Year’ and thought to myself that this new year had not been so bad, now that I had got the meds for Dad, lots of them. Mom got herself day care as well. Our family will be together soon,” said Qian Qian.
She had gone to the hospital to deliver medicines to her dad and mom. What happened next was heartbreaking.
“I put the meds in a corner of the isolated hospital building and walked away so my Dad could come and pick them up,” wrote Qian Qian. “Before he went back to the ward, he said ‘Mom might not make it’, which shocked me.”
Qian Qian’s dad said the hospital had called 10 minutes earlier and informed him that his wife’s organs were failing.
Qian Qian, still full of hope and determination, texted back: “She will make it. Mom has always been strong, have faith in her.”
“She won’t,” replied her dad. “The doctors are just going through the motions.”
Qian Qian knew it was true when the hospital called to inform them of her mother’s death from respiratory failure caused by the new coronavirus. She then called her brother, who had been lining up for hospital checkups for three days straight, from as early as 5am, but he was told he wouldn’t be able to see a doctor until 2.30 pm.
Qian Qian did not want to break the news to her brother, but she had to tell him:
“We don’t have our Mom anymore,” she said.
Both then went to their mother, although their dad and Qian Qian’s sister-in-law had insisted that it would be too dangerous. At the hospital, the doctor would not let them near her body. Her brother rushed into the ward anyway and screamed to the doctors that their mother still had a heartbeat! But it was not so.
“Brother was crying so uncontrollably in the ward he couldn’t breathe,” wrote Qian Qian. “I was worried about his exposure to the environment so I tried my best to pull him out.”
“Let’s go bring the meds for Dad,” she told her brother, as they mourned their mother’s passing. “The rest of us have to live through this, we can’t lose anyone else.”