Li Suzhi: A Guardian in Tibet
Li Suzhi was born in Linyi, Shandong Province, in 1954. After graduating from The Second Military Medical University in Shanghai in 1976, he went to work in a hospital in Shanghai. However, half a year later, despite his high salary and comfortable life in Shanghai, Li went to Tibet. To date, he has been working there for 28 years. He now serves as the director of the general hospital of Tibet autonomous region in Lhasa.
In Li's spare time, he has also made achievements in medical research. Congenital heart disease is the most common disease on the Tibetan Plateau. To address this issue, Li began his research from 1980. 20 years later, the world's first open heart operation on the Tibetan plateau was completed successfully. Li defied the common wisdom that heart operations can't be done at altitudes above 3,500 meters. During his 28 years in Tibet, Li has succeeded in saving more than 9,000 patients.
In the past, due to the Tibetan climate, many migrants there experienced altitude sickness. After careful experiments, Li developed special capsules which greatly reduced the rate of acute high altitude sickness. For ten years, no soldier died of altitude-related illnesses.
Tibet is a vast and sparsely-populated area. Most of the residents there have difficulties in receiving medical services. Some areas even hold the superstition that diseases could be cured through prayer. In 1996, Li was appointed the director of the general hospital of Tibetan autonomous region. Year after year, Li has helped to improve the health of Tibetan compatriots.
Under Li's leadership, free medical services were offered to more than 7,500 people with financial difficulties. The hospital gave total subsidies of more than 1.5 million yuan to Tibetan residents each year. In 2001, Li held general cardiac examinations for more than 8,000 children. Free operations were done for kids with heart diseases. Over the years, Li has completed 487 heart operations successfully.
"Most inland hospitals are profit-oriented. We also live on profit. However, in Tibet, the unity and stability of ethnic groups must be given priority." Li said. "Take the case of abbot of the Sera Monastery for example. We cured his disease. Now all the members there were grateful to our hospital, the CPC as well as the troops there."
What worries Li most is the problem of brain drain in the region. In order to avoid brain drain, a laboratory for cell culture and research was built in Li's hospital, which cost 300,000 yuan. "Salaies should be improved, and platforms should be set for [employees] to study, to work and do research." Li said.
In addition, as the hospital director for more than eight years, Li has also helped 31 couples settle down in Tibet.
Li says his experience in Tibet is most beautiful period of his life. "Life is short." Li said. "I must devote all my life to the nation, or I would turn over in my grave."