September 13, 2019 was the annual traditional Mid-Autumn Festival. However, at this moment, the life of a Tibetan woman on the snowy plateau was at stake, and she needed to get to Beijing for surgery immediately.
"Hurry, hurry…hurry!" Pemba Tsering, the patient Jampa Drolma's younger brother, was anxious. The young man from Baingoin County called one person after another for help. Finally, he found me.
From that phone call, I learned that Jampa Drolma had a very serious cardiovascular disease, of which the mortality rate increases by the hour, and after 48 hours it can reach as high as 50 percent. For this disease, only racing against time can save lives.
At present, the only individual hospitals in China that can perform the surgery for this disease are in Beijing. Limited by the existing medical conditions and technology in Tibet, the doctors of the Tibet People's Hospital suggested the patient's family that they should try their best to send her to Beijing for treatment.
A great life-saving rescue began. Unfortunately, during the three-day holiday of the Mid-Autumn Festival, people were resting. Could I help contact the hospital before the patient arrived in Beijing? I didn't know. However, I knew I had to try.
I first contacted Gu Hong, a pediatric cardiologist at Beijing Anzhen Hospital, who has treated many patients from Tibet with major diseases. Unexpectedly, my request immediately received a positive response from her who is considered a "living Buddha" in the eyes of the Tibetan people.
Gu Hong (right), who helped treat Jampa Drolma's disease, visiting with Jampa Drolma (right) before she left Beijing to return to Tibet, interacting with her and recalling the treatment process. Photo taken by Tang Zhaoming on September 30.
Gu Hong, who has visited Tibet 17 times to screen tens of thousands of children, has performed interventional surgery on more than 200 Tibetan children with congenital heart disease. She is also a close friend whom I met in an interview 10 years ago.
On the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, with the help of the Tibet People's Hospital and Tibet Airlines, Pemba Tsering helped his sister handle the process for her transfer to Beijing, prepared medicines during the flight, and helped her board and get oxygen.
The 15th is the third day of the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday. Early in the morning, 46-year-old Jampa Drolma was taken in the hospital ambulance from Tibet People's Hospital and escorted by a doctor appointed by the hospital to hurry to Lhasa Gonggar Airport.
The airport had been contacted in advance and gave the "green light" for them, and the ambulance drove straight to the passenger plane. The airport started the conveyor to bring the patient onto the plane. The flight captain also arranged for a flight attendant to stay with the patient and provide assistance at any time.
At 9:55 a.m., the passenger plane flew to Beijing. During the flight, the captain visited the patient twice to understand any changes in her condition.
After 2:00 p.m., the plane from Lhasa arrived at Beijing Capital Airport. Jampa Drolma was successfully taken by airport ambulance near the plane and transferred to another Beijing "999" ambulance waiting outside. This ambulance then rushed towards Beijing Anzhen Hospital.
Early on this morning of the day, I had received the good news from Gu Hong by phone: She had already contacted Zhu Junming, director of the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Beijing Anzhen Hospital's Cardiovascular Center. Zhu Junming not only arranged a ward bed to receive the patient, but also an emergency operation for her that night.
At 3:30 p.m., Gu Hong told me that Zhu Junming was rushing to the hospital, and the operation would be performed by him. He gave up on rest and was willing to take the risk to complete the difficult operation for this patient from the plateau, which was very touching!
At 4:00 p.m., the ambulance passed the "Green Passage" of Beijing Anzhen Hospital and sent the patient to cardiac surgery. The medical staff who had been waiting for a long time immediately prepared for surgery to the patient.
According to Pemba Tsering, after their family arrived at Beijing Anzhen Hospital from Beijing Capital Airport, Zhu Junming led his team to perform surgery for his sister, which lasted more than six hours under the shadow-less lamp. It ended after 11:00 p.m.
"It was Director Zhu who brought my sister back from the brink of death. If the surgery had been a few hours later, my sister probably would not have lived. The doctors have created a miracle of life!" Pemba Tsering said.
On the 30th, Jampa Drolma, who was about to leave the hospital, handed a pennant to Zhu Junming. She couldn't help tearing up and kept saying: "Thank you!"
This is the pennant given to Zhu Junming (third from left) by Jampa Drolma (fourth from right) when she was discharged from the hospital after surgery. She gave it to Zhu Junming to thank him and his medical team. Photo by Pemba Tsering on September 30, 2019.
Editor: Tommy Tan.