ChinaWu Huayan, 24, had spent nearly five years eating rice and chili to raise money to care for her sick younger brother, causing severe malnutrition.
Wu, a female student in Guizhou province, China, was admitted earlier this month with symptoms of shortness of breath. The doctors determined that Wu was seriously malnourished, only 1.35 m tall, weighing more than 20 kg and having heart and kidney problems due to lack of food for 5 years.
Wu said she lost her mother when she was 4 years old, and her father died when she was in school age. She and her younger brother initially lived with her grandmother, and were later supported 300 yuan (42 USD) a month by her uncle and aunt.
However, most of the meager money went to cure Wu's mentally ill younger brother. Every day, she only lives with 2 yuan ($ 0.30), mainly eating rice with chili.
Wu Huayan at the hospital. Image: Kerry Allen / Twitter
Wu's situation shocked the Chinese public after her story appeared in the media earlier this week. Many also criticized the authorities for not knowing Wu's background and helping her sooner.
Guizhou is one of the poorest provinces in China. Grateful to Wu, many benefactors have donated to her with the total amount currently reaching nearly one million yuan ($ 115,000).
One person on Weibo commented that Wu's situation was "worse than refugees in Afghanistan". People also expressed their admiration for Wu's determination to take care of her sick child while continuing her education at school.
In addition to online philanthropists, Wu's teachers and classmates also raised 40,000 yuan (US $ 5,700), while locals supported her 30,000 yuan. Officials released a statement saying Wu received a minimum subsidy of about 300-700 yuan a month from the government and is receiving an emergency relief of 20,000 yuan.
"We will continue to monitor the case of this gentle and strong girl," the Interior Office of Dongren City, Guizhou Province, said. "We will actively cooperate with other related departments to resolve the issue."
Wu's story is reminiscent of a Chinese boy walking to school with icy hair in 2018. The boy called "The Little King" received donations from around the world after many expressed his pity. to my situation and respect the way I overcome difficulties.
Despite China's strong economic growth in recent decades, poverty persists and inequality is growing. China pledges to eradicate poverty by 2020, but the National Bureau of Statistics says that in 2017, 30.46 million people in rural areas still live below the poverty line of US $ 1.9 a day.
The country has also moved from moderate inequality in 1990 to one of the most unequal nations in the world, according to the 2018 International Monetary Fund's 2018 report.
Mr. Ngoc (Follow BBC)