Living Revolution | Medicine and Public Health

Chairman Mao Gave Her A New Life
—The Advanced Deed of the Medical Section of a P.L.A. Unit Which, Overcoming All Difficulties, Successfully Removed a 90-Jin Tumour

- China Pictorial August 1968, p.24

The spring wind of Mao Tse-tung's thought blows to all corners of the country; the triumphal song of Chairman Mao's revolutionary line resounds throughout the vast stretches of the motherland. Raising high the great red banner of Mao Tse-tung's thought, comrades of the medical section of a unit under the Peking Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army successfully removed a big 90-jin tumour from the abdomen of Chang Chiu-chu, a woman commune member. They performed a miracle in world medical history.

On February 21, 1968 Tsui Ping-wu, a railway worker, took his wife, Chang Chiu-chu, on a handcart to the medical section of an army unit in Peking. She is a lower middle peasant, a member of the Langtsun brigade of the Kuotsun commune in Mancheng County, Hopei Province. Her protruding abdomen wag the size of a cauldron and she breathed laboriously. Though emaciated, she weighed 192 jin. Upon examination, a huge tumour was found, filling up the entire abdomen and half of the thoracic cavity. The army doctors were filled with the sincerest sympathy for their class sister.

"Why didn't you come before you reached this condition ?"

In a voice heavy with emotion, Tsui Pingwu gave the following account.

In 1964, Chang Chiu-chu felt a small lump in her abdomen. She went in succession to a number of large hospitals in Peking for examination. But the final conclusion of the "experts" and "eminent "doctors was invariably that it was an "incurable malady" which was of no value in medical research. After that Chang Chiuchu was barred from entry to the hospital. Meanwhile, the tumour grew from the size of a bowl to that of a cauldron. She became completely incapable of looking after herself. She was not only unable to stand on her feet, but could not bend down or sleep on her back. She could only kneel on the kang (a Chinese brickbed).

"We didn't come looking for technique and equipment," added Tsui Ping-wu. "We came to find the People's Liberation Army, which is loyal to Chairman Mao's revolutionary line. We are sure you can cure her!"

On hearing this, the medical section comrades asked Tsui to take his wife home and prepare for her hospitalization, They would send for her later.

Chairman Mao teaches us: "This question of 'for whom?' is fundamental; it is a question of principle."

The choice between serving the masses or the bourgeoisie involves a grave struggle between the two lines in health work. "The counterrevolutionary revisionist line put into effect by China's Khrushchov on the medical and health front shoves the living into their graves," said the comrades of the medical section. "We are determined to go ahead under the radiance of Chairman Mao's revolutionary line and save Chang Chiu-chu."

The Party branch of the medical section promptly reported the situation to the Party committee of the army unit. The latter gave the following clear-cut instructions: "Though ours is a small section, it should open its door wide to the poor and lower middle peasants. Out of unlimited loyalty to Chairman Mao's revolutionary line, we must cure Chang Chiu-chu without fail and strike a shattering blow at the counter-revolutionary revisionist line pushed by China's Khrushchov on the medical and health front."

On February 25, comrades of the medical section, filled with unswerving loyalty to Chairman Mao's revolutionary line and profound class feelings for the poor and lower middle peasants, sent a car to bring Chang Chiu-chu to the section.

"The case of Chang Chiu-chu is extremely critical and difficult - which calls for very good equipment and high technical proficiency. Our medical section is deficient in both. Can we handle the case?"

"After examination in the big hospitals, the diagnosis was 'malignant tumour'. If that is so, how can we cure her?"

The medical section comrades, faced with difficult problems like these, pondered and discussed.

To solve them, the Party branch once more got everybody together to study Chairman Mao's great instruction: "In medical and health work, put the stress on the rural areas." They thoroughly repudiated the towering crimes of China's Khrushchov in opposing this instruction of Chairman Mao's and in pushing a counterrevolutionary revisionist line on the medical and health front. In this way, all who were present raised their consciousness in the struggle between the two lines, and enhanced their revolutionary spirit. The condition of their class sister reminded them of the bitterness of their own lives, replete with blood and tears. To a man, they made up their minds: "The bourgeois reactionary line tries to strangle us with 'equipment' and ,authorities'. We'll smash all this to smithereens and use the invincible thought of Mao Tse-tung to perform miracles."

With their consciousness in the struggle between the two lines raised, comrades of the section carried out over 30 different types of examinations, making overall, repeated studies of Chang Chiu-chu's condition. They worked as if they were gathering detailed information about the enemy's situation before setting out for battle. After making a conscientious, dialectical, scientific analysis, they reached the correct conclusion: "It's a benign tumour!" The wrong "diagnosis" of the big hospitals was reversed.

In preparation for removing the big tumour, the Party branch of the medical section and all comrades of the section took up detailed research work. Hundreds of questions were put forward, many of them difficult ones which they had never come up against before.

What was to be done?

"The masses are the real heroes." The Party branch called upon everyone to strive for victory out of infinite loyalty to Chairman Mao's revolutionary line. Eight combat groups were formed including political command, operation and anaesthetization. Everywhere, in offices, dormitories and the kitchen, comrades were contributing their wisdom and efforts to tackling these questions.

By the time the scheduled date of operation drew near, a proper answer had been found for every question. But the problem of the "incision" still weighed heavily on everybody's mind. What kind of incision would cause least damage to the patient's abdominal structure but would at the same time allow for removal of the whole tumour? Day and night, using models of the "big abdomen" made of gourds, surgeons and nurses drew countless sketches. The cooks also drew on plates and the inpatients on pillowcases. By dint of going without sleep for three nights in a row, one of the nurses managed to produce a comparatively ideal sketch of the "incision".

Racking their brains, these fighters who are boundlessly loyal to Chairman Mao's revolutionary line worked over 20 days and nights, often going without food or sleep. Finally a plan of operation - the crystallization of the thinking of numberless revolutionary fighters - was drawn up.

On March 23 at 7:30 a.m., the entire staff of the medical section, facing the rising sun, made this solemn pledge to the great leader Chairman Mao: "We resolve to follow your teaching: 'Heal the wounded, rescue the dying, practise revolutionary humanitarianism.' We are determined to remove the big tumour so that Chang Chiu-chu can live happily and work joyously in the great era of Mao Tse-tung!"

The patient was taken to the operating room. On its walls hung Chairman Mao's portraits and quotations. Before her admission to the medical section, Chang Chiu-chu had had no hope at all of being cured. After coming, with the help of the comrades of the section, she studied and applied Chairman Mao's works in a living way. She gradually built up confidence that her disease could be vanquished. Now, lying calmly on the operating table, she recited the quotation from Chairman Mao: "Be resolute, fear no sacrifice and surmount every difficulty to win victory."

The operation began. As expected, one crisis arose after another. In less than five minutes after the administration of the anaesthetic, the patient began to breathe with difficulty. Her blood pressure dropped; her pulse became rapid and cold sweat broke out on her face. At this crucial moment, the leading comrade of the army unit present recited Chairman Mao's teaching: "What we need is an enthusiastic but calm state of mind and intense but orderly work." This encouraged everybody and the cause was promptly found out. One of the army doctors quickly and decisively changed the anaesthetic tank for one he had made himself, and things returned to normal.

When the abdomen was opened, a new difficulty presented itself. The tumour was covered by a membrane. Did it belong to the tumour or was it the peritoneum? If it was the latter, it could not be cut because infection of the viscera might set in and the health of the class sister would be affected over a long period of time.

What was to be done?

"Our duty is to hold ourselves responsible to the people." Chairman Mao's teaching pointed out to them the direction of advance. They were determined to overcome all difficulties to find out which membrane it was and to persist in carrying on the operation outside the peritoneum.

To distinguish which membrane it was, five surgeons kept their eyes glued on the tumour. They scrutinized it, exchanging opinions and encouraging each other. Meanwhile the Party branch inspired them with Chairman Mao's teachings. At length they concluded that it was the membrane of the tumour and took care to keep the peritoneum intact.

When the tumour was exposed, its surface was found to be covered with a network of blood vessels. It was attached to the surrounding tissues. The five surgeons in the operating group then started separating them. They used no scissors or scalpels but operated with forceps cushioned with layers of gauze, inserting them bit by bit. In every gentle movement was concentrated their boundless loyalty to Chairman Mao and love for the masses of the people. As they were absorbed in assailing the tissues round the tumour, the patient's blood pressure suddenly dropped. The surgeon in charge of blood transfusion quickly went to work. One bottle after another, the 5,000 c.c. of blood was soon used up. The cadres and fighters waiting outside the operating room ready to donate blood for their class sister now came to the fore, each claiming to be the first, As the blood of her class brothers flowed uninterruptedly into Chang Chiu-chu's blood vessels, her blood pressure returned to normal and the fight continued.

When the tissues round the tumour had been stripped, the base of the tumour at last came to view. The battle entered the decisive stage. Two main blood vessels passed under the base of the tumour. If these were ruptured, all the blood in the body could flow out in a matter of seconds. In this most critical moment when final victory was in sight, they kept in mind Chairman Mao's teaching: "What really counts in the world is conscientiousness, and the Communist Party is most particular about being conscientious." They gave full play to the revolutionary spirit of serving the people "wholly" and "entirely". Prevailing over various difficulties and crises, by 7:30 p.m. they had succeeded in extracting the 90-jin tumour.

As the news of victory spread from the operating room, the cadres and fighters who had been waiting outside impatiently for 12 hours leaped with joy. Cheers of "Long live Chairman Mao!" and "Long live Chairman Mao's revolutionary line!" resounded over the entire barracks.

When Chang Chiu-chu came to at 01: 00 a.m. and felt her abdomen now shrunk to normal, tears of gratitude filled her eyes. Turning to the portrait of Chairman Mao on the wall, she made an effort to cheer: "Long live Chairman Mao! A long, long life to Chairman Mao!"

How excited Tsui Ping-wu and his children were as they gazed at their dear one and looked again and again at the tumour taken from her. There were ever so many things Tsui wanted to say to Chairman Mao! Standing with his children respectfully before Chairman Mao's portrait, he led them many times over in wishing a long life to Chairman Mao! A long, long life to Chairman Mao!

Upon hearing the happy news thousands of revolutionary people came long distances to offer their congratulations. They held high Chairman Mao's portraits and coloured banners inscribed with Chairman Mao's teaching. "Support the army and cherish the people."

Six days after the operation, the stitches on an incision of 95 centimetres (including a supplementary incision) were taken out. Two days later, Chang Chiu-chu was able to walk. She is now happily taking part in physical labour. With infinite gratitude to the great leader Chairman Mao she often tells others: "Chairman Mao gave me a second life!"

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