10 February 2019
The news that there is a baby on the way is exciting for any family, and especially so when the country only allows it to occur once in their lifetime. Joy filled the house. Joy was then confounded when the doctor told that mother that she was having more than one baby. At the first ultra-sound the mother was told that she was expecting FOUR babies.
Half way through the pregnancy the small rural hospital near where they lived, advised the mother to stay in hospital and rest for the sake of the babies. And that is when things became difficult. As farmers, there was no employer’s health benefits and the savings for the baby rapidly went to pay for the mother’s hospitalisation.
Eventually the babies were born, a couple of months prematurely. The mother was well and the babies were in four humidicribs. The cost of care for the four babies was way beyond what the family could afford, having spent so much money while the mother was in hospital. The small rural village chipped in. Everyone who had any money to spare loaned it to the family. Until, several days after the birth there just wasn’t anymore money, so the parents went to the hospital and took their four tiny bundles home.
The rural hospital reported the situation to the provincial children’s hospital and the next morning ambulances with four humidicribs arrived. It was too late for the smallest baby who had died during the night. The medics pleaded with the parents, who were afraid of the costs on top of all the debts they already had.
Here they learned that the Central Government of China had decreed that no baby was to die just because the parents did not have the money. They were to be looked after and the parents could pay for it in instalments for years to come.
So it was that we learned that the three surviving boys were in the hospital. While we were in the hospital, there was a lot of commotion. The parents were coming and the TV was there to document it. A substantial amount of money, which had been sent into the TV station by viewers, was handed over to the couple, and then demanded by the hospital.
I had spoken to the parents about how we could help them. When I asked whether any money I might give them would also be taken by the hospital, I was told that it would. We changed our tack and after speaking with the parents, told them that we would provide the formula for the infants, and the nappies, for the first 12 months. This would give them an opportunity to get on top of some of their financial stress. Then the money that was still there, we took out to the home some twelve months later, and instead of giving it to the parents, we gave it to the people who were owed money. The Father would tell me how much he owed a person and I would pay that person. That meant that the hospital could not say that the family had been given the money and thus claim it.
The reward was to see three healthy one year olds being cared for by their mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.