LYING on a bed in an intensive care unit, 16-month-old Doubao tries to put a biscuit into his mouth yet fails as his hands keep shaking and his vision is blurred because of the deadly tumor constricting his cranial nerves.
But fortunately, he is going to receive surgery from one of the country's best doctors, thanks to a nationwide microblog (or weibo, Chinese equivalent of Twitter) campaign to save his life, which was kindled three weeks ago by thousands of Chinese netizens.
In the early hours of yesterday, the toddler was taken to the General Hospital of Armed Police Forces in Beijing in an exclusive ambulance that drove 17 hours from Hangzhou, capital of east Zhejiang Province to Beijing.
Following a nuclear magnetic resonance test on the 5-centimeter-long tumor in the young patient's head, doctors made a collaborative diagnosis yesterday and said they would operate on Doubao next Monday. Doctors Jia Ge and Liu Baiyun from Tiantan Hospital, both leading neurosurgeons in China, will perform the surgery.
The story began about one month ago, when the crystal-eyed baby from Hangzhou, who was prone to sleeping too much, vomiting when eating and unable to stand properly, was diagnosed with deadly brain cancer medulloblastoma, one of the most common malignant central nervous system tumors found among children around the world.
Doubao was soon sent to a local hospital for treatment, however, since his tumor was stuck to the brain stem, the hospital said it was too risky to perform any surgery.
After learning that a hospital in Shanghai could do the surgery, Doubao's family headed for Shanghai, yet the hospital could only operate to drain some fluid on the brain and declined further surgery.
By that time the child was so weak he could hardly open his mouth, said his mother surnamed Song.
"Lovely Doubao, drink some water, and you will get well," his desperate mother told Doubao and he opened his mouth with great difficulty. "At that moment I knew Doubao was still struggling to live, how could I give up on him?" she asked.
Unintentionally, after returning from Shanghai, Song made her first microblog posting on Sina.com on July 21, posting information about her son's case. To her surprise, thousands of netizens joined in her search to consult experts and find the best doctors. So far she has more than 8,000 followers online.
Those fans carried out a relay race of love. Some translated Doubao's medical record into English and sent it to hospitals in the United States, Japan and Singapore, some suggested and tried to reach the country's best doctors, while some asked for the media's help.
And a miracle happened.
A netizen dubbed "Happy Little Suya" from Beijing printed out a picture of one of the country's best pediatric neurosurgeons, Dr Jia Ge, and waited at Tiantan Hospital in the capital from 5am with the picture in her hand hoping to catch a glimpse of the doctor. Finally, after finding Dr Jia and explaining Doubao's plight, the doctor reviewed Doubao's case history and agreed to do the surgery.
It was exciting news, but the next challenge was how to carry Doubao from Hangzhou to the faraway Beijing, with doctors' intensive care all the way?
Doubao's family turned to netizens from Beijing, who eventually had the General Hospital of Armed Police Forces in Beijing send an exclusive ambulance all the way from the capital to Hangzhou to pick up Doubao.
"Happy Little Suya," who worked in Hangzhou before moving to Beijing two years ago, even provided a down payment of 10,000 yuan (US$1,538) for the ambulance to cover the 2,600-kilometer round trip. The ambulance cost a total of 20,000 yuan after the hospital gave them a discount of 10,000 yuan.
Many netizens came to visit Doubao and his parents yesterday, sending gifts and donations.
"I just wanted to release my sadness on the microblog. I didn't expect my son would receive so much care," said Doubao's mother.
"The campaign raised by netizens has made us aware that there remains true love in the world," added the father Ye Linming.
Although the hospital said a recurrence of this kind of illness is possible, Doubao's parents believe his survival is a miracle, as the father wrote on his microblog: "We have never given up hope, and we are looking for hope in the desperation."