Life by a thousand cuts

Updated: 2013-07-03 09:56

By Tang Zhe (China Daily)

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Life by a thousand cuts

Zhang Yonghong, who lives with brittle bone disease, sells paper-cut works in Beijing to support himself and earn money to treat his daughter, who inherited the disease. Photos by Katherine Rodriguez / for China Daily

When Zhang Yonghong's daughter was diagnosed with the same brittle bone condition he has lived with all his life, he became determined to provide her with the best medical care available. He now ekes out a living selling his intricate paper-cut artwork, but daily survival remains a struggle. Tang Zhe reports.

Life by a thousand cuts

Born with brittle bone disease, Zhang Yonghong is only half a meter tall and must use a wheelchair. His thin arms and legs can hardly bear any weight, and he is unable to take care of himself. However, his hands are able to produce delicate paper-cuts, artworks he hopes will free his daughter from the same destiny.

Raised poor and with little knowledge of the disease, the 39-year-old received no treatment when he was young and has suffered more than 100 fractures.

To support himself, he learned how to make paper-cut art from his mother. He sold his artwork and taught his techniques in Xi'an for eight years before discovering his young daughter inherited the disease, leading Zhang to move his wife and daughter to Beijing for better treatment five years ago.

Zhang's daughter's treatment costs about 30,000 yuan ($4,880) a year. The family's savings was wiped out in two years, and Zhang was forced to start to sell his work in underground passages with his healthy wife, who soon left him.

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Life by a thousand cuts

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