Tale of ill boy who was calmed by cartoons draws school offer

2015-02-17 09:54:51 GMT2015-02-17 17:54:51(Beijing Time)  China Daily
Zhu Feng (left) poses with students of a school for the hearing-impaired at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Hubei province. Provided to China DailyZhu Feng (left) poses with students of a school for the hearing-impaired at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Hubei province. Provided to China Daily

A 14-year-old boy who was born without the ability to hear, and who has difficulty communicating with others, has been given a chance to study for free at a school for those with impaired hearing in Wuhan, Hubei province, after the school's authorities were impressed by doctors' use of comic strips to persuade him to undergo an operation.

Zhu Feng, from a poor family in Macheng, Hubei province, was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University last year. The illness has made him look like a 6-year-old, and he weighs just 19 kilograms.

As Zhu's condition deteriorated in January, he received an operation on his kidneys to enable him to have the long-term dialysis he needs to survive.

Zhu was fearful about the operation. Doctors at the hospital managed to pacify him by drawing comic strips, and the operation went ahead.

The story amazed the authorities of a school for the hearing-impaired, and the school's faculty and students recently visited Zhu at the hospital, bringing him paintings by the students and school bags.

The visiting students said to Zhu via sign language that "although we could not hear, we could have a color dream". Zhu responded with a smile, despite not understanding sign language.

Wu Yunpeng, the school's vice-principal, said the school is willing to offer Zhu a free education. Zhu was found to have no hearing ability at the age of 1 and has had little chance to communicate with his peers since childhood. His father is also deaf, and his mother is illiterate.

Communicating with Zhu posed a serious challenge for doctors at the hospital when they wanted to perform the operation.

Li Xiaoning, one of the doctors, said Zhu was so terrified that he hid behind his mother when he saw the doctors approaching him.

How to put Zhu at ease was discussed at a hospital meeting. Li suggested that doctors draw cartoons to persuade the child to undergo the operation, because he had noticed Zhu sometimes drew pictures.

Wang Yuanyuan, an intern at the hospital, used to entertain her 6-year-old nephew by drawing pictures, and she accepted the task.

Wang spent an afternoon drawing four pictures that sent Zhu a greeting, explained the disease and the operation. When she presented the pictures to Zhu, he smiled.

"Maybe he felt interested because he looked at the pictures so attentively," Wang said.

Wang drew two more pictures to further introduce details of the surgery, and to convey what Zhu should be aware of after the surgery.

Wang said she was not sure how well Zhu would understand the pictures, and she frequently gave him a thumbs-up sign when explaining the drawings. Zhu responded with a hand sign of "V" for victory.

Thanks to the drawings, Zhu did not hide when the doctors came to see him again, and the operation went well.

Li was pleased to hear about the school's offer and said it is great for Zhu to have the opportunity to enter a school.

"The companionship of classmates, along with the education provided by the teachers, will significantly help Zhu's growth and help encourage him to bravely receive future treatments," Li said.

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