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Shaolin monk doctors assist earthquake victims

Rao Zexiang, who hurt her left foot while fleeing the April 20 earthquake, went on Thursday to see the doctors — monks from a rescue team from Shaolin Temple.

Rao, 52, a resident of Lushan county, Sichuan province, rushed out of her house with her 1-year-old grandson in her arms when the quake hit. The disaster has left at least 196 people dead.

Shaolin monk doctors assist earthquake victims

Shi Yanyun, a rescue team member from Shaolin Temple, treats a volunteer who hurt his back during earthquake rescue operations in Lushan, Sichuan province, on Thursday. Photo: An Baijie


She was in such a hurry that her left foot was injured. She also hurt her back on the handrail of the staircase.

"Seeing the bottles on the shelf of my apartment fall down, I knew that it was an earthquake, and I rushed out from the third floor immediately with my grandson," she said.

Rao said that after she felt pain on Wednesday in her foot and back, she sought help from the rescue team sent to the county from Shaolin Temple, China's most famous Buddhist monastery in Henan province.

Shi Weiyin, a monk from the medical rescue team, applied massage therapy on Rao's foot for about a minute and then put a plaster on her foot. The plaster was made by the Shaolin Temple monks using their traditional formula.

The Shaolin medical team, comprising 13 monk doctors, arrived in Lushan county on Tuesday morning, after 32 hours' travel by bus from Dengfeng in Central China's Henan province.

Most of the monks graduated from medical universities, and some have been doctors for decades, Shi said, adding that he graduated from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine in 2000.

The monks brought plasters and liquid medicines researched and developed by the Shaolin Temple, worth about 300,000 yuan ($48,640). They also brought some antibiotics donated by the local branch of the Red Cross Society, Shi said.

On Thursday morning, three monks provided medical services in the downtown area of Lushan county, while others from the medical team went to the townships and villages where medical services were more urgently needed.

Most have bruises or wrenches. Many patients already had chronic diseases such as arthritis and rheumatism. The wet weather after the quake made their conditions even worse, Shi said.

Shi Hengming, another monk from the medical team, said that the chronic diseases are not likely to be cured by short-time treatment, but their medical service could ease the patients' symptoms.

Ran Guolin, 48, a resident of Lushan county who sought help from the Shaolin rescue team, said that his right leg has been numb for about six months, and it became worse after the quake.

"I felt as if many needles were stabbing my leg," he said.

Shi Hengming massaged his leg carefully and pasted a plaster onto the leg. He gave the patient another two plasters and told him to replace the plaster every two days.

The monks' medical team received a warm welcome from the volunteers, and the local residents — many people brought them food, water and quilts.

Shaolin Temple sent a medical team following the Wenchuan earthquake in May 2008, and it plans to establish an emergency medical squad to cope with natural disasters, said Shi Yanlin, executive director of Shaolin Temple.

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