Keeping promises against the odds

A homeless man was treated by a hospital free of charge, and made a promise to repay the debt as soon as possible. After many years, he has kept his promise.

The story begins six years ago, when Hu Zhizhong was found face down in the street after fainting. He was taken to hospital, where it was discovered he suffered from acute peritonitis, gastric ulcer perforation and coronary heart disease simultaneously. The conditions had developed so severely that immediate surgery was required.

Although he didn’t have a penny in his pocket or anyone to help him pay, the hospital decided to offer a hand. “To heal the wounded and rescue the dying is our duty,” said a member staff at the hospital.

The operation was a success, and he began to recover.

“The ulcerous perforation in his digestive track that he suffered from was probably due to being homeless; he couldn’t have regular meals or get enough nutrition,” said Liu Jianguo, the doctor in charge of his operation.

After the surgery, Hu spent another nine days in the hospital with ongoing care and treatment.

“Good treatment to ensure his recovery was our priority,” said Liu.

The 7,524.81-yuan ($1,091.66) medical expenses would be daunting for most of us, but Hu promised to pay the debt someday in the future.

He had not been heard from since leaving the hospital until three years later when he was found and taken home by his family. He died in 2018, shortly after returning.

Arranging his belongings, Hu’s family found his will and discovered that he wanted to pay the money back to the hospital.

His sister, Hu Zhishan, rented out the room he once lived in and fulfilled his will using the money saved from the rent, and on July 23, Hu Zhishan and her relatives came to the hospital to pay back the money.

It was an impressive and deeply moving moment for the nurses, doctors and surgeons who had tended to Hu all those years ago.

“Although he was homeless and had no money at all, he never lost his faith,” said Yang Xingzhi, a nurse that had taken care of Hu six years ago.

According to Yang, Hu was quite different from other homeless people; he was reluctant to talk to others at first, but later opened his mind.

“Some patients are sensitive and needs more love and care,” said Yang, who hoped to know more about him and help Hu find his family as soon as possible.

During his recovery, Yang remembers Hu became gradually less restrained and began to share things about himself. He told her personal things about his life, and how there were plenty of books at his home and he liked reading.

“Ms Yang, I have a lot of stories about myself, I’d like to tell you all about them some day,” said Hu.

Unfortunately, Yang now has no chance to listen to them; but the memory of a man who kept his promise of gratitude will live on.

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