24YO Who Starved Herself Trying To Save Money For Brother’s Medical Treatment Dies

Image: Sin Chew

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Tell me to eat the same thing two days in a row, and I’ll probably die of depression.

Image: Reddit (u/Johnish63.jpg)

So when I found out that a 24-year-old not only ate the same thing every day, and that it was only bread or white rice with chilli sauce, and she did it to save money for her brother’s mental illness treatment…

All I could do was cry and give a round of applause.

Image: Giphy

Recap: Spends Only S$0.40 Daily; Becomes Malnourished

You can read the previous story here, but here’s a recap:

Wu Huayuan’s mother died when she was four, and her father passed away in 2014. She then had to shoulder the financial burden, but only had 1290 yuan (around S$250) a month to survive on.

She worked as a cleaner and teaching assistant where she was paid 600 yuan (S$115) monthly, which also covers some of her expenses while studying economics at a university in Guizhou.

Her younger brother has a mental illness and required treatment which is 5,000 yuan (~S$965) per month. Relatives were poor too and couldn’t help much, but her brother’s condition was controlled after one year of treatment.

To save money, she limits herself to spending 2 yuan (S$0.40) a day on food. This means only bread or white rice with chilli sauce for lunch and dinner with no breakfast.


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While being self-sacrificial is commendable, being malnourished is not. She weighed 21kg and was 135cm tall, and looks like a child even at the age of 24.

Image: Sinchew

Poverty conditions like this are a vicious cycle; often times being poor means you can’t afford many basic things which leads to more conditions which demand more expenditure.

From a Terry Pratchett novel which illustrates this:

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes’ ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.

I quoted this passage because she was hospitalised after she could barely walk 40 metres on her own.

Due to her severe malnutrition, she had heart problems which requires surgery costing 200,000 yuan (around S$38,600). Which, Wu had to turn down because it’s too expensive.

Ironically, being poor is more expensive.

Her friends and relatives started a crowdfunding effort for her, however, and many donated money to help Wu.

Donations came in from many, and one even donated half of their monthly salary for her medical fees.

But…

She Was Unable To Go Through With Surgery And Passed Away

Image: Giphy

According to Sin Chew, she was not able to undergo the surgery because she weighed less than 30kg.

She then passed away on 13th Jan 2020.

Yeah, it sounds stupid, but the malnourishment led to everything going terribly wrong.


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She had hoped to continue her studies and earn a living on her own, and also to celebrate Chinese New Year with her brother after she recovered from her illness.

But we live in a terrible world where other’s misfortunes are things to be taken advantage of.

Fake Fundraisers For Wu Even Popped Up

Image: Giphy

An article by Oriental Daily revealed that many charity platforms started doing fundraising for Wu. But some of them did it without her knowledge or consent.

One of the centers, “9958 Children’s Emergency Rescue Center”, asked to raise 800,000 yuan (~S$156k) under her name.

Another asked for 400,000 (~S$78k) and quickly met the target. This was way more than the required 200,000 yuan.

The explanation given by a center was that they “wanted to do something for the kindhearted college girl who was placed in a difficult circumstance”. They also stated “6% of the fundraising amount will be used as project execution fees.” The strange thing is, when reporters made further inquiries on the status of the donations, they received no further replies.

Another platform raised 450,000 yuan (~S$88k) and claimed to have sent the funds to the hospital, but the amount had already been reached and Wu’s family did not take any of the money.

Wu’s family was understandably outraged and saddened by people making use of Wu’s name for money. They expressed that the girl had never wanted help from people online; it was only on her friends’ and family’s insistence that she decided to do so.


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