Cola Boy gets his wish - and plenty of good wishes

2008-05-28 01:14:24 GMT       2008-05-28 09:14:24 (Beijing Time)        China Daily      

Xue Xiao, a quake survivor, is better known to most Chinese by another name - Cola Boy.

When the 17-year-old student was pulled out of his school building's rubble after more than 80 hours, he cried out to his two rescuers: "Uncle, I want to have cola, I want an iced one."

The scene was broadcast live by CCTV on May 15 - and grief-stricken Chinese couldn't help breaking into smiles, touched by the spontaneity of the teenager.

Xue recalled being in chemistry class on May 12 in Dongqi Middle School of Hanwan township, Mianzhu city, when the earth began to shake and mountains swayed.

Xue, with many other students, was buried in the debris of the collapsed building. Some were killed immediately and most others under the ruins died one after another.

But Xue held on in the firm belief that "someone will come to save us".

The next day, he could hear rescuers but couldn't see them and, a little scared, he shouted: "You won't leave me here, will you?"

We promise we will save you, Zhang Jianqiang and He Hongwei told Xue; and comforted him by talking to him.

Through a straw, they fed him glucose water for more than two days; and when they asked him what he liked most, Xue told them it was cola and pineapple.

"Xue Xiao is such a lovely boy. We promised him we'd give him cola once he is out," said Zhang. And a deal was made - rescuers would give him cola, and Xue would buy them ice cream.

The rescue operation lasted 48 hours before Xue was pulled out at 10 pm on May 15 - and that's when many heard his famous pronouncement in a clear voice: "Uncle, I want to have a cola."

"I was distraught and extremely thirsty after being buried for 80 hours, and I just wished to have an iced drink at that moment. I usually have a cola after sports," said Xue, who plays basketball.

He was taken to Huaxi Hospital in Chengdu and told his right arm had to be amputated.

Xue, who lost touch with his parents in the quake, had no relatives around and made the decision himself - he used his left arm to make a thumbprint on the operation consent letter.

His mother, who found out from TV that her son was alive, went to the hospital on May 17 and saw him with only one hand.

He consoled her: "Mother, don't be sad. I knew I would lose my right hand if were saved."

Soon visitors would come cola in hand, including Zhang and He, who saved him.

"We brought you cola, you see, as we promised", they said the moment they saw Xue.

Xue, hearing the familiar voices that accompanied him for 48 hours, did not say much, but pulled their hands and murmured: "Let me see you."

The minute he was pulled out of the rubble, he was blindfolded to protect him against light; and it was the first time Xue was seeing his saviors.

When his mother asked Xue to thank them, Zhang said: "No need to say thanks between friends."

The duo said it is they who should thank Xue for providing a silver lining amid death and destruction.

"We'll wait for you to recover and buy us ice creams," Zhang said as he left.

Xue is receiving further treatment, and is full of hope.

"My next wish is to watch Yao Ming play basketball at the Olympics.

"And I will learn to use my left hand to continue with life. I love mathematics. I want to be a scientist."

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