Unsung heroes help make Xinjiang boy's life complete


Nine-year-old Abdulwal Abdula waved his right arm to bid farewell to guests leaving his house in a village in Hotan county, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

What might appear a simple gesture was only possible because people from different walks of life raced against time to save the boy's severed right arm more than two years ago.

Around 8 pm on April 30, 2021, Abdulwal's right arm was severed when it got caught in the motor of a running tractor, while his parents were busy tending the walnut trees near their house in Hotan's Kumairik village.

Realizing the complexity involved in reattaching the arm, the local hospital where he was rushed to decided to transfer the boy to the traditional Chinese medicine hospital affiliated with Xinjiang Medical University in the regional capital of Urumqi, about 1,400 kilometers away, for a surgery that had to be performed within eight hours.

But by the time Abdulwal was escorted to the airport in Hotan, the last flight to Urumqi that night — China Southern Airlines Flight CZ6820 — was already on the runway and ready for takeoff.

Everyone knew that if Abdulwal missed the flight he would lose his right arm, and possibly his life. Air traffic control workers immediately contacted the pilots and asked them to wait, while officials at the airport busily arranged permission for the plane to return to the terminal and pick up the boy.

After the permission was granted, the plane returned, and Abdulwal and his severed arm were put onboard. None of the passengers complained about the delay.

After the plane landed in Urumqi, a series of specially cleared green channels, with a police car leading the way, was used to make the trip to the hospital as quick as possible.

Abdulwal arrived at the hospital in Urumqi just in time. It had been seven-and-a-half hours since the accident by the time surgery started. When it was over, his severed limb was successfully reattached and the broken bone fragments realigned.

People around the country were touched by the concerted efforts to save the boy from amputation after the story went viral on social media. It was later turned into a film, Ordinary Hero.

Abdulwal returned home to Hotan on July 19, 2022, after completing a series of treatments and therapies. He's now a second-grade student at the primary school in his village. He loves playing soccer and basketball with his friends during breaks.

Abdulwal said he has watched the movie based on his story twice. "It reminds me of how many people have helped me. They aren't ordinary heroes, they are all superheroes to me," he said.

The function of Abdulwal's right arm has continued to improve and his life is back to normal, said Sudiwuman Yimintohut, Abdulwal's mother.

"Initially after his surgery, his fingers wouldn't move. Now they are much better and can grab things easily. He can even write with his right hand," Sudiwuman said. "Every day, he is getting better. His life would have been completely different had he lost one of his arms."

She added that the doctor who reattached Abdulwal's arm often called to check on him and give advice on physiotherapy.

"I want to be a doctor when I grow up so I can help others," Abdulwal said.

Contact the writers at cuijia@chinadaily.com.cn

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