An Oct. 16 program of CCTV’s News Probe (Chinese) tells a story about devastated parents, some of whom sold all their property and ran into big debts to come up with hefty bills for as much as 900,000 yuan ($11,000) to treat their little kids’ thalassemia (Âú∞‰∏≠Êµ∑Ë¥´Ë°ÄÁóá) at Guangzhou Zhujiang Hospital (ÂπøÂ∑ûÁè†Ê±üÂåªÈô¢).
They were among the victims of a big medical scandal of late where a pediatrician, Zhu Weiguo (Êú±‰∏∫ÂõΩ), proclaimed a success rate of 93% with smuggled, “imported” super drugs. The parents thought their kids, all of whom died as a result of Zhu’s treatment, were nothing but one of the few cases of bad luck or failure. But a gradually developed patient family network convinced them that the doctor misled them by telling a whopper lie and using outdated drugs.
They also learned that nine out of 15 kids, under Zhu’s care, died during July 2004 to September 2005. There were three more failed marrow transplants, a technique Zhu recommended to all patients. (A list of the names, ages and residencies of the kids is attached below, with amounts of their medical bills and dates of their deaths.) [Full Text in Chinese, video not available as of Oct. 17]
“What I meant by success rate is transplanting the marrow,” argued Dr. Zhu. Thus, he confessed, there was a bit of misunderstanding between him and the parents. The resulting death is another matter, he says. “Maybe I dig too deep in academics, so when I talk in terms that average Joes also use, it may cause misunderstandings.”
The hospital refused to provide detailed cases for thalassemia kids the hospital treated, but confirmed that 19 survived treatments out of a total 29, thus a success rate of 52%. A hospital PR official also admitted that Dr. Zhu’s proclamation is indeed misleading.
CCTV’s probe also found that Dr. Zhu robbed parents by insisting they buy drugs he claimed were unavailable at home from dealer Wang Hua (ÁéãÂçé), who was detained by police and was not available for an interview. Parents afterwards learned that all the drugs Zhu convinced them to pay for, at double rates or more, were all available in Guangzhou.
“Because, you know, my work pressure is pretty high and I don’t have the time and energy to research into the local drug market,” Zhu explains.
Guangdong provincial health and drug authorities, after parents’ complaints, suspended Zhu’s practice of marrow transplant and his official post at the hospital, but didn’t rule on whether Zhu made huge profits out of all the treatment-related drug deals.
The case even attracted attention from the provincial government and an investigation team has been dispatched from the provincial party’s discipline inspection committee.
Xinxin (Êñ∞Êñ∞), 8, Fogang, Guangdong (Âπø‰∏ú‰ΩõÂÜà), died on Aug. 3, 2004, medical bills unknown
Yiyi (Ëâ∫Ëâ∫), 8, Huadu, Guangdong (Âπø‰∏úËä±ÈÉΩ), died on Aug. 12, 2004, medical bills unknown
Chenxin (Êô®Êòï), 2, Hefei, Anhui (ÂÆâÂæΩÂêàËÇ•), died on Nov. 12, 2004, medical bill 200,000 yuan
Dongdong (‰∏ú‰∏ú), 7, Guangzhou, Guangdong (Âπø‰∏úÂπøÂ∑û), died on Nov. 12, 2004, medical bills unknown
Huahua (ÂçéÂçé), 13, Dongguan, Guangdong (Âπø‰∏ú‰∏úËéû), died on April 8, 2005, medical bill 700,000 yuan
Linlin (Áê≥Áê≥), 1, Shenzhen, Guangdong (Âπø‰∏úÊ∑±Âú≥), died on May 21, 2005, medical bill 140,000 yuan
Dongdong (Ê†ãÊ†ã), 9, Shenzhen, Guangdong (Âπø‰∏úÊ∑±Âú≥), died on June 5, 2005, medical bill 600,000 yuan
Xuanxuan (Ëê±Ëê±), 3, Changsha, Hunan (ÊπñÂçóÈïøÊ≤ô), died on July 21, 2005, medical bill 300,000 yuan
Xinxin (ÊòïÊòï), 10, Dongguan, Guangdong (Âπø‰∏ú‰∏úËéû), died on Sept. 18, 2005, medical bill 900,000 yuan