Mirror Baby’s last wish before death?


(From Baidu wiki) “(Dextrocardia) Heart is displaced to the right side of the chest. Liver is positioned backwards; heart is also positioned backwards with the bottom facing right.” At 10 am, on September 12, 2010, West China Hospital of Sichuan University director professor Tang Hong held the probe that was slowly moving across the body of 12-year-old Zhu Hongmei, he muttered his discoveries slowly, “All internal organs are backwards!” Staring at the monitor with Professor Tang, the Deputy Director of Cardiovascular Surgery, Professor An Qi said, “She is a mirror baby!” This was the first time 12-year-old Zhu Hongmei and her father Zhu Daiming heard someone called her “Mirror Baby”. (镜面娃娃)

Zhu Daiming is now 76 years old. He found her daughter on the side of the street 12 years ago. Zhu Hongmei had been abandoned after she was born for two days.

When Zhu Hongmei was one year old, she was diagnosed with severe congenital heart disease. Zhu Daiming took her daughter everywhere seeking for treatment. A few years later, the child’s condition still had not improved, but Zhu already spent all his money.

Zhu’s wife was not happy about his doings and the couple often fought over that. When Zhu Hongmei was 5, the wife divorced Zhu Daiming and took off with his only son. Zhu laughed at himself and said to his daughter, “We both orphans will depend on each other now.”

When Mei Zhu was 7, her father wanted her to go to school, “We already paid the school fees, but when the teachers saw her, they did not want to take her in. They said, ‘she had congenital heart disease and who is going to take the responsibility if she suddenly gets sick in school?’” Dai Mingzhu had no other choice but to teacher her daughter himself.

The story of Mirror baby was first published on SCOL.com.cn on 9/13/2010. It said the final diagnosis by Professor An Qi was, all her internal organs were backwards; her heart structure was less than half of a normal person. It was already a miracle that she lived for 12 years. Professor An Qi said, she should have heart surgery as soon as possible, this kind of heart surgery should have been performed twice between the age of 1 and 6. “Now we must complete it in one time, directly divert the blood vessels. Surgery will cost at least 100,000 yuan.” 100,000 yuan! This is a astronomical figure to Zhu Daiming. The elderly was dazed and helpless, “I do not have the hope that the child can do something great in the future, but I only hope while I am still alive, she can also live.”

The article also had a hot-line number to call for people want to help Mirror Baby:



(left) Mirror baby says good-bye to her classmate

Then, there is an update to the current situation of Mirror Baby which left me feel uneasy and troubling. An article on SCOL.com.cn,  (离开前 “镜面娃娃”朱红梅当了一次真正的学生) “Before she is leaving, Mirror Baby Zhu Hongmei was a real student for once”  was published on September 22, 2010. Then it was reposted everywhere on the Chinese media websites, Xihua news, Sohu and many others had the same exact article but the title was ("镜面娃娃"心肝脾全长反 临终前如愿当回学生) “Mirror Baby has all internal organs backwards, wish granted to be a student before her death”. Wait a minute, did Mirror Baby pass away already? I did a search, no such news was reported. And this article itself started out with


September 19, the People’s liberation Army No. 452 Hospital Cardiothoracic Surgery Director Qiao Junxuan announced, Mirror Baby- Zhu Hongmei lost her last chance of surgery. After accepting the harsh reality, Zhu Hongmei made only one request: “I want to be a real student, even only for one lesson!”

And then the story went on talking about the day Mirror Baby spent at the school and how happy she was, how happy the teacher and classmates made her. And the day was over, the end, that was it.

The article failed to mention the most important question, why did Mirror Baby lose her last chance of surgery?  Just because some doctor from some hospital announced it? But why? The news headline and the entire article were bizarre to me, how can you say Mirror Baby’s last wish before death was granted when she is still alive? What is the article saying? Somehow now that we know Mirror Baby is going to pass away (for sure), school shows great empathy granting a little girl’s wish before death to let her be a student at the school for one day. Look how happy they made her…

  1. ok i knew chinese were heartless.. but this is way too much. how the hell could they let her go without the surgery for this long?? bastards

    1. Initially it was a lack of medical insurance I guess. Actually, I’ve heard these things happen outside of China as well. As a matter af fact, I would imagine it even happens quite frequently in the good old US of A. In terms of public medical care they are still somewhat of a retarded country, compared to european standards at least.

      My best guess would be that because of the media attention the authorities finally felt compelled to act. A preoperative risk assessment was performed and hence a lot of complications were to be expected. Her underlying cardiac conditions, although apparently stable at present, would very likely have become manifest during surgery. To put it bluntly: I guess she didn’t like her odds. Therefore she chose to continue to live on as long as possible as any normal kid would, and therefore accept a certain death.

      1. in my understanding it’s like this: no money? then die, little girl! – typical chinese attitude.

        I only hope they won’t try to profit from her death and exhibit her body(parts).

        1. No mate, it is not typical Chinese. On the contrary: not being able to find a proper sanctuary when in distress is quite an ordinary event, a reality for millions of people all over the globe. Your ignorance however is typical american. Cheers.

          1. If you had any idea how hard Americans had to fight to get a public health care option… believe me, we are very aware of the financial aspects of health care.

            1. That is why it still one of the most inefficient systems in the world I suppose. Don’t worry, I think I have a pretty good idea how hard it was and how long it took to make even the slightest progress towards a decent public health care system. Yet it’s quite obvious you still don’t know how to take care of your own for all your precious $$.

              1. The US has had public health care for the aged and for children through the medicare and medicaid programs since the 1970s. Likewise, most of the individual States have been providing state-subsidized health insurance since the 1980s. Part of the reason the new Federal health insurance program was so necessary was that a lot of States have been struggling to pay their bills, because whereas the Federal government may run deficits, a lot of States have it in their constitution that they must have a balanced budget every year.

                So progress has been continual, it just hasn’t all been happening at the Federal level. People who aren’t familiar with the American political system tend to underestimate (or be completely unaware of) both the devolution of Federal power to the individual States (who often even usurp Federal authority, like California) as well as the myriad number of social programs that are available.

                Part of the inefficiency of American social programs may also be attributed to the 30 years of (mostly) phenomenal growth. With constant supplies of capital coming in from all quarters and large-scale real wage increases people (as a collective group) simply forgot to plan for a rainy day. Hopefully, one of the benefits of the recent recession will be that people begin want to restructure the social programs and government institutions that surround them in order to provide better support for the American worker.

                1. As unaware as I may seem, thanks for the insider’s perpective. Still I would prefer to be cured in Europe if you don’t mind. We sort of expect rainy days as an incontestable part of life, that needs to be accounted for collectively. Americans however (as a collective group) seem to count on individual capacity and social coherence by local initiatives and self-support groups. Those who do not fit into any of the programs or institutions, or those who have been hit by some kind of unfortunate disaster, or those who lost it all because their claims were denied – they are easily abandoned and considered to owe it all to themselves. I admire your patriotism, but the American low wage worker is basically screwed. Nothing was forgotten mate. It was to be expected.

                  1. I’m not trying to be patriotic, but I am trying to clarify what is available to American citizens. Most of the Europeans I talked to were unaware of the amount of social services provided by the federal government (particularly to children, the aged, and those who had completed military service) and were completely unaware not only of the services provided by State governments, but also the budgeting and lawmaking authority that States have within the framework of the US government. For instance, the California sponsored health-care plan is indeed a “local” initiative, but it covers a political area that contains 1/4 of the total US population as well one of the 10 largest economies in the world in its own right.

                    As far as Americans inability to conceptualize large-scale tragedy (or the inevitability of small-scale tragedies) as compared to Europeans I would wager at least part of this is due to the cultural inheritance of the First and Second World Wars. Things like the Blitz and the Siege of Leningrad are still part of the living memory for most Europeans, the idea that massively horrible things beyond the capability of any individual to cope with have occurred before and could occur again at any moment is part of the social unconscious there. I would imagine this engenders a certain sort of solidarity and a belief in the nation-state as a necessary locus for social welfare and protection. The last sort of unifying tragedy the USA had of that sort was the Great Depression, which produced a lot of the social welfare programs that were expanded upon in the 60s and early 70s and are still in use today.

                    1. Sure, most things can be historically explained on a broad scale. Still the truth is that California is a complete and total economic disaster area. Unemployment in California has reached unprecedented levels. Nobody has a safe job anymore – not even teachers. Just recently, the state of California handed pink slips to nearly 22,000 teachers across the state. On top of everything else, California’s health care system is also on the verge of collapse. In fact, literally dozens of California hospitals and emergency rooms have shut down over the past ten years. The rest of the health care system in California is now beyond overloaded. This had led to brutally long waits, diverted ambulances and even unnecessary patient deaths. Even good old Arnold Swarzenegger has no clue how to avoid total bankruptcy if he doesn’t get bailed out by the federal gevernment.

                      All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey.

            1. because it is a chinese
              for the chinese only two countries exist on this planet: Meiguo and the china country

        2. “no money? then die” – Canadians often say this about USA. Actually, I’ve heard a number of Americans say this about USA too. Anyways, I think this kind of thing happens all over the world.

            1. Then you need to talk to more Canadians, sir, because while we mention you guys we don’t talk about you THAT often. (:

  2. There seems to be rather a lot lost in the poor translation of the source material.

    1. then please demonstrate to us your superior translation skills with a full write up!

      anyone see the movie Ninja Warrior with Rain? The girl’s heart was on the right side of her chest…and it saved her life!

  3. I’m surprised. In Europe, Japan, the US and most places experienced surgeons would stand in line to do this operation. Not just pro bone because it’s a sad story but for the chance (yes, it’s cynical but it’s true) to be in on this very rare condition. I can’t believer there aren’t any class surgeons in China would LOVE to jump on this and I’m sure the poor girl and her father wouldn’t hesitate to sign a waiver to get this done. Guess it’s all about the money but who’s really surprised by that after all.

    1. I guess there would be plenty of first class chinese surgeons willing and capable enough. Still I suppose all the media attention has turned this spectacle into a political issue. Someone would have to be willing to fascilitate all means available, in order to run a high risk operation. I suppose the exceptional adminstrative interference would have to be justified, to avoid any precedent. Also, I imagine there is a lot of prestige at stake. Failure would mean making yourself vonurable to international critisizm. To look for foreign assistence would imply lack of domestic competence. Remaining idle on the other hand and transferring responsibility – might be the safest option for those who would rather avoid being held accountable for any mishaps or unfortunate results.

    2. Reversed internal organs is not too rare a condition. It happens in 1 in 10,000 people so with a population like China’s there should be a lot of people with it. As for the congenital heart defect, it also is not too rare but it needs to be treated when she was a baby. Millions of people in the US and Europe are adults leading productive lives despite heart defects when they were born. It’s sad this girl was abandoned when she was a baby. Her only good luck was being found by such a generous old man. Too bad he could not afford the treatment for her.

      1. You cant be serious. You mean there is a 1 in 10,000 chance of it happening i guess (which still sounds absurdly incorrect).If it actually happened to 1 in 10,000 people that would mean 7,000,000 have mirrored organs.

  4. If she is mirror baby does she have a twin out there somewhere.And now to US medical care maybe not health insurance but they can get medical care.Anyone can get emergency medical care in the US for life threatening illness.Most poor/old have health care.Children like the little boy who died of a tooth infection had Idiots for parents who could have gotten their child medical treatment but didn’t.The people who lack health care are usually either young adults or middle class and many choose not to pay for it even when available.On top of emergency rooms having to except everyone there are many,many clinics that are cheaper .And you can make payments to hospitals.I know because I am currently making payments to a Hospital Right Now for myself.Our problem is health care varies from place to place.There are 30 of top 100 hospitals in Michigan and Ohio alone and guess what many Canadians use our hospitals and we use there Pharma.So the best of the best is not evenly distributed.I have never been denied medical treatment,even when I didn’t have insurance,I made payments to pay for medical bills.

  5. I am not defending Health Insurance/Hospitals/Corporate Evil Greed and over charging of Americans with or with out health insurance/our governments and get tax exemptions as non-profits either.

  6. Abandoned by her natural parents and then abandoned by the state. This is the real China. They don’t have that many people like Zhu Daiming who nurtured the child. Unfortunately, Zhu Daiming is not rich and had no connections in the government.

    The Chinese teachers were so cruel in refusing the child in school and their change of heart in allowing her even for one day in school was only because of this child’s plight being published in the web. I wish I could say it’s only a made up story for a movie but it ain’t.

  7. If the child had been a boy he’d probably have gotten the surgery. China has a lot of female orphans, it’s a shame that they can’t allow more to be adopted by childless couples in America.

  8. Aww. What a sad story. Bless the father for taking care of his daughter up to this point.

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