Saturday, 27. December 2014
05. 08. 14. - 15:00
When Chen Yonggen lost a leg to an infection as a 20-year-old, he was determined to pick himself up and dedicate his life to the men who saved him.
Now - 33 years later - Chen is one of the most respected medics in China with a mountainside practice that spreads over six kilometres and with more than 1,600 patients.
Chen - whose surgery is in remote Honghua, in south-western China’s Sichuan province - lost his left leg when surgeons told him a bone abscess was so far gone they had to amputate.
"I knew I was lucky to be alive despite my loss. So at that point I decided that whatever the obstacles, I would overcome them to become a doctor like the surgeons who had saved my life," he explained.
He enrolled on a course to become a medic and after graduating instantly chose the toughest career path taking a rural practice where his services were most in demand even if the monetary rewards were much less had he decided to stay in the city.
With no proper roads for cars, Chen walks to every patient and has visited every single village in his far flung practice hundreds of times.
He said: "I had planned to get the vehicle as I can drive a car, and I passed the test specifically for being a rural doctor, but cars are useless here. So wherever I need to go I walk. It takes me longer because of my missing leg but the patients I think realise that nowadays there's not many people who would take this job and they seem to be grateful that I make the effort which is very humbling," he said.
Relatives have urged him to find an easier practice in a city, but Chen explained: "It was a rural doctor who first spotted my infection. If it had not been for him, I would be dead."
"I have had many offers to join another surgery and I might have an easier life if I went into the town, but my patients wouldn't and that's where the argument ends really," he added.
Wei Niu, 56, who says his daughter was cured of an infection that could have claimed her life, said: "Everybody around here has a story to tell about him, he is an inspiration and a real hero."
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