I did not suspect that she would be Mei Lian.
I’ve already heard a lot about her: a doctor in the most remote area of No.161 Regiment No. 9 Company, who has served there for 20 years. Many times, relevant departments wanted to transfer her to other areas; but due to petitions from local residents, all attempts to transfer her had failed. Mei has repeatedly encountered frightened horses and survived many hazards. She only received a junior high school education. It was her perseverant self study that earned her first-class medical skills...
To my surprise, Mei looked so thin and weak. Her face turned red before talking to me. It seems like she didn’t know where to put her right hand, while she simply played with her skirt flap.
She is from Ba'erluke Mountain - a mountain in the remote corners on the country’s border.
“To be a doctor when grown up”
Looking down from the top of Ba’erluke Mountain, I can clearly see the fields and farms below, of the neighboring country of Kazakhstan. Mei Lian is a second generation Corps member. She was born in a small village at the foot of Ba’erluke Mountain in 1967. Every October, the Mountain is covered in snow, which will not melt until May of the following year.
Asked why she chose to study medicine, Mei Lian answered that it was because of her brother’s early death.
It was one day in November of 1972. Her three-year-old brother had the measles, and the company doctor could not offer any help. Her parents rushed the child to the regiment hospital. However, the hospital is more than 50 km away from her home. After 10 hours of travel, they still had not reached the hospital. Mei’s brother died before they could reach their destination. Earlier, several other children had suffered the same fate.
“I will be a doctor when I grow up,” Mei told herself.
In 1984, Mei graduated from junior high school and was assigned to No. 14 Company as a farm worker. Later, she became a student of Li Yonghong, platoon leader of local military forces who understand Chinese medicine. Under the instruction of Li, Mei mastered some preliminary knowledge of Chinese medicine. In 1985, she entered Shandong Qilu Chinese Medicine Correspondence College. In August 1987, she was assigned to be the company’s hygienist.
Hard work pays off. Mei’s medical skills became increasingly sophisticated. She can successfully revive patients suffering from common diseases. By combining traditional Chinese medicine with western medicine, she has treated more than 20 patients with vascular problems; and she successfully treated 90% of her patients. She has also delivered nearly 100 children, keeping all mothers and children safe.
In many mountain areas, well-con structured roads do not exist. Mei has to ride a horse. She does not even remember how many times she has fallen off.
Wolfs and bears often lurk in Ba’erluke Mountain areas. Some asked Mei, “Are you scared when traveling alone?” Mei smiled, “How could I not be? However, my fear slips away when I think of the patients who are waiting for me at home.”
Over the past 20 years, Mei Lian has spent 200 days making home visits and has treated over 2,000 patients every year. No matter how late or how far away, as long as the patients call, she will always show up immediately. She knows that residents in mountain areas are hard up for money, so she never charges them a visitation fee. She also allows balance due payments f they cannot afford the cost of medicine.
For years, Mei Lian has had many opportunities to leave the Mountain. She also hesitated once, but finally decided to stay. She said, “This place needs me.”
Mei Lian’s story has moved many people in the northern and southern parts of Tianshan. She has received honorary titles of national outstanding rural doctor and outstanding party member of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.