Heroic teacher remains in coma

Updated: 2012-05-14 07:12

By Zhou Huiying and An Baijie in Harbin (China Daily)

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Heroic teacher remains in coma

Zhang Lili, a 29-yearold middle school teacher in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, is in a coma in hospital after she saved the lives of two students by pushing them out of the way of an oncoming bus. Zhang was run over by the bus and doctors had to amputate her legs. PHOTO BY XIAO JINBIAO / FOR CHINA DAILY 

Doctors in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province are still working full out to save the life of a young teacher who was run over by a school bus as she pushed two students out of the way on Tuesday.

Zhang Lili, 29, a Chinese language teacher at No 19 Middle School of Jiamusi, remained in an intensive ward on Sunday afternoon after having both of her legs amputated, Xing Jichun, deputy director of the provincial health department, said during a news briefing.

After news of the accident was posted online, micro blogs were filled with concern and admiration for the teacher, with one netizen calling Zhang "the most beautiful teacher in China".

At 8:38 pm on Tuesday, Zhang and several students were crossing a road and were surprised by a school bus rushing toward them. Zhang pushed two students out of the way and was then run over, Liu Ye, a student at the school who witnessed the accident, told Xinhua News Agency.

Liu said that there were three buses at the school gate ready to pick up students, but the one in the back suddenly crashed into the second bus, pushing it into the first one.

Li Jinru, a colleague of Zhang's, said Zhang pushed one student away with her back and pulled the other out of the way before being hit.

"She was lying on the ground under the bus when I got to her, with massive bone fractures," said Wang Xiaoqian, another colleague. "Lots of students said she had saved the others, and she needed immediate care."

Five students were also slightly injured in the accident and were taken to Jiamusi Central Hospital for treatment.

Cao Hongtao, president of the hospital, said Zhang suffered massive fractures in her ribs, sacrum, vertebrae, pelvis and thighs. The hospital had to amputate her legs on Tuesday night.

"She is so young and has not yet had children, so we amputated only her legs. But if her condition worsens, we may have to operate again," Cao was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Zhang, who has been in a coma for days, was moved on Sunday morning from Jiamusi Central Hospital to a hospital in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, that was better equipped to treat her.

Minister of Health Chen Zhu called on doctors to save Zhang "at all costs", Xing Jichun, deputy director of the provincial health department, said at the news briefing on Sunday afternoon.

Four specialists from the Ministry of Health and six doctors in Harbin have examined Zhang and her condition is stable but could still deteriorate, said Zhao Mingyan, ICU director at the First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, where Zhang is now being cared for.

Li Ziye, Zhang's husband, said that she was "covered in blood" after the accident and "hardly any flesh clung to her bones", according to a report by China Central Television.

The couple wanted to have a child but had been waiting because of Zhang's work, Li said.

Jia Hongjie, a father of one of Zhang's students, said she married last year when she started teaching Grade 3 students, who are scheduled to graduate from middle school this summer.

She was very focused on her work and has a good reputation among the students and parents for her dedication, Jia said.

A China Daily reporter saw people at the hospital on Sunday who had come to visit Zhang, some of them total strangers. 

Heroic teacher remains in coma

Zhang Lili, a Chinese language teacher in Jiamusi, Heilongjiang province, on her wedding day.  PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Two middle-aged men from Southwest China's Yunnan province who were in Harbin for business, came to the hospital on Sunday afternoon out of respect for her.

"When I heard about her bravery, it stirred my heart," said one of the men, who declined to be identified. "I just wanted to show my respect for her, because not everyone could act as bravely as she did."

The two men said that the workers in their construction company in Yunnan province will donate to Zhang to help her in her future life.

Liu Heng, vice-president of Daqing Normal University, Zhang's alma mater, came to Harbin to visit Zhang on Sunday.

"We are so moved by her courage," Liu said. "I came to visit her on behalf of all the teachers and students at my university."

The university's teachers and students would light candles on Sunday night to pray for her health, said Li Feng, a professor who accompanied Liu and who used to be Zhang's teacher.

"Zhang was so kindhearted at the university, and it's natural for her to act so bravely. She has always been this brave," professor Li said.

Contact the writers at anbaijie@chinadaily.com.cn and zhouhuiying@chinadaily.com.cn