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Teenager conquers pain to realize college dream

By MA CHI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-09-18 10:17

Wang Weijia teaches himself computer programming at home in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on Aug 31. YANG QING/XINHUA

Preparing for the gaokao, the college entrance exam, is a grueling ordeal for high school students. For Wang Weijia, who has a muscular disorder, the challenge was doubly formidable.

The 17-year-old comes from Ertaizi, a village in Faku county, Shenyang, in Northeast China's Liaoning province. While at junior middle school, he was diagnosed with Pompe disease, a rare illness caused by the lack of an enzyme, which results in damage to muscles and nerve cells throughout the body.

As a result, Wang has scoliosis, a bent spine, and he often falls when walking. As his family could not afford expensive medical treatment, Wang's condition worsened and his body became severely deformed as he grew older.

Due to the risk of apnea, a condition in which the body stops breathing, he has to use a ventilator while he sleeps. To correct his curved back, he wears a rigid frame on his upper body every day.

Despite all these difficulties, he refused to give in and never slacked in his studies.

"I am afflicted with the disease, but I cannot abandon myself to fate," he said.

Zhao Li, his mother, said Wang got up at 5:45 am and went to bed at 11:30 pm every day during his three years at high school.

Wang practices breathing with a respiratory exercise trainer at home last month. YANG QING/XINHUA

Even simple actions such as sitting down pose a big challenge. Ding Junhua, Wang's teacher at Faku County High School, said:"Due to his disability, he often felt very tired after sitting for two classes, let alone seven or eight a day. But he rarely complained, and just persevered with studying."

The school gave Wang great support to facilitate his studies. To make it easier for him to attend lessons, his class was allocated the same groundfloor classroom for all three years and his seat was always the one nearest the door. To alleviate the financial burden on the family, the school gave his mother a job as a cleaner and arranged for her and Wang to live in a separate dormitory.

Wang's efforts have paid off. He was recently admitted by Nankai University to major in computer studies. He said one reason behind his choice of school is that the city of Tianjin, where the college is located, has included Pompe disease in its medical insurance program.

After the gaokao, Wang decided to do something to repay the aid he has received from people, such as those who helped pay his medical bills.

So, during the summer vacation, he gave free tuition on high school courses to several students from his village in the hope he could help more children realize their college dreams.

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