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Tom Mendelsohn

Friday, 11 October 2013

A Chinese man has amputated his own leg using nothing more than a saw and a fruit knife, after doctors told him an infection had left him just one month to live.

Zheng Yanliang, 47, was apparently known as his home town’s tough guy even before he was forced to take matters into his own hands.

Suffering from severe arterial thrombosis in both legs, surviving on a diet of ineffective painkillers in searing daily pain, and unable to pay the hospital’s fee for surgery, Zheng was forced into the makeshift surgery.

Biting down on a wooden back scratcher wrapped in a towel, he successfully removed his own leg about 15cm below the hip.

According to Shanghaist, Zheng waited until his wife had gone to bed before getting started.

“Over 20 minutes later, when [his wife] returned to the eastern bedroom after awaking from a nightmare, she was dumbstruck by the scene.

“Her husband’s right leg had been sawed off about 15 centimeters from the hip, and the metal saw used for the amputation had snapped into two from the excessive force, and on the table were four molars that had been bitten off. Fortunately, because of the thrombosis, there wasn’t much blood during the amputation.”

Early last year, Zheng, a farmer from a village in the northern Chinese province of Hebei, began to experience bursts of excruciating pain in his stomach, which shot down both legs.

When his local GP couldn’t diagnose the problem, he was bounced through the ineffective Chinese healthcare system, heading first to a hospital in the nearby city of Baoding, and then to Beijing, where he was diagnosed with the embolism, told it was incurable, and given a month to live – alongside a fat bill.

Three months on, he was still alive, suffering through bouts of dizziness and pain so acute he kept his neighbours awake with the screams.

Even though his ersatz surgery was successful, a year and a half on, his left leg is still infected, and now Zheng has gone public in an attempt to attract charity. He claims his only source of income is a stipend from his 17-year-old daughter, who works in a shoe factory, and that his wife is suffering from diabetes.

According to Sky News, the coverage of the story has lead Dr Zhang Qiang, from the Shanghai Wode Medical Centre, to promise to cover all of Zheng’s medical costs from now on.

“My medical colleagues and I will provide him with free medical services,” Dr Zhang said on his microblog.

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