Tuesday, 10. December 2013 - 23:12
16. 06. 12. - 11:00
A Chinese mum-of-two disfigured by horrific tumours growing on her face has been told by doctors she will make a full recovery from her condition after the Communist government said it would foot the bill for her surgery.
Li Hongfang, 40, has been shunned in public after a rare type of bone cancer caused tissue to grow under her facial skin, distorting her features beyond recognition.
Hongfang - a mother-of-two - has endured the condition, known as Chordoma, for more than a decade because she has no money to pay for surgery which is only available in China at a price.
Now officials at Qianxian People’s Hospital, near Xi’an in western China’s Shaanxi province, say they have been ordered to spare no expense, after her case became a source of shame for the country's ailing health service thanks to pressure from international media.
Medical director Xue Gang said: "Our superiors told us specially that we should cure Li Hongfang’s illness at all costs"
Local government officials have pledged to meet all costs for her surgery and ongoing radiotherapy to make sure the tumours stay gone.
Spokesman Si Dangku confirmed: "We will pay and if we run out of funds, the regional government will pay."
Surgeon Pan Lin - from Xijing Hospital, where Hongfang is preparing for her operation - said she will look completely normal after the surgery.
"The condition is rare but the tumours are benign so her life is not in danger.
"After the tumours have been removed we will provide some cosmetic surgery and she will end up a beauty again," he added.
Hongfang is now undergoing a series of pre-op tests before the surgery can begin.
But she said: "I am so grateful to the people who made this happen."
"I just want to look normal again, like I feel inside. I'm not a monster and I don't want to look like one," she added.
Hongfang had originally thought that the first swelling on her face was in infected insect bite.
'It didn't even itch or ache in any way – but it also didn't go away and in fact just got bigger and bigger," she said.
China's health service fell apart when the old state system was dismantled and medical fees introduced.
Tens of millions of people cannot even see a doctor and cannot afford treatment.
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