Across China: Racing against death on Pamir Plateau

URUMQI, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Maierdan Saidarhan was relieved when his 6-year-old daughter finally stopped coughing. A few days earlier, they barely won a race against death on the Pamir Plateau, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, with the help of doctor Huang Minxiu, a pediatrics specialist from Shenzhen.


Maierdan and his family live in the Tajik Autonomous County of Taxkorgan, a region sitting at an average altitude of over 4,000 meters. Due to harsh natural conditions, it is called the "dead zone" by medical workers.


Maierdan's daughter had a persistent cough nearly two weeks ago. Maierdan and his wife took her to the county's hospital as soon as they could. There, Huang examined the child and found that she had pneumonia, which is difficult to cure in the area.


What's worse, the girl was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. If the child's condition worsened, her life would hang by a thread. Her parents wanted to immediately go to the city of Kashgar, hundreds of miles away from their residence, to find a better hospital.


"She might stop breathing on the way down the mountain," Huang said. Facing this reality, the doctor decided to step up the treatment of the patient and make preparations for the child's transfer to the hospital in Kashgar after her condition stabilized.


"Thanks to the doctors, my daughter stopped coughing and was able to eat," Maierdan said.


As he recalled, in the past, when the local farmers and herdsmen contracted a somewhat serious disease, they had to drive five or six hours to hospitals in Kashgar, and some people lost their lives on the way.


Now, the medical conditions are gradually improving in the county. The southern metropolis Shenzhen has sent nine batches of medical teams to help the local hospitals improve medical treatment standards, said Gong Zhiqiang, president of the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County People's Hospital and also a doctor involved in aiding Xinjiang projects.


In July 2018, Shenzhen partnered with Jiangsu Province to establish a medical cooperation alliance for aiding Xinjiang. A similar alliance composed of medical specialists from Shandong, Shanghai, Guangdong and Shenzhen was also set up in March to share medical resources between different localities.


Thanks to this mechanism, Doctor Huang is planning to send the cardiac ultrasound data of Maierdan's daughter to experts in Jiangsu for evaluation. If conditions are met, the patient will be sent to an adjacent hospital in Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture of Kizilsu for further treatment.


According to statistics from the local government, in the last three years, a total of 62 hospitals from seven provinces and cities have sent 506 medical workers to assist hospitals in Xinjiang, with the rescue success rate in severe cases rising to 94.3 percent and the death rate dropping to 0.42 percent.