You might have heard different stories of fictitious superheroes like superman, batman, ironman but have you ever heard about the folded man? China’s folded man is indeed a real-life superhero, unlike others we see with imaginary superpowers. Li Hua, also known as the folded man of China, has the greatest power of all; it’s his invincible willpower. To know more about Li Hua’s story, stick to the end of this article.
Li Hua’s journey from a farmer to The Folded Man
Li Hua was no different than the ordinary man until his 18th birthday. Soon after he turned 18, a rare type of arthritis called Ankylosing spondylitis developed in his body which caused his spine to bend gradually. Ankylosing spondylitis is a rare life-long condition in which the small bones of the vertebral column start to fuse and results in the spine bending forward.
Just because his family couldn’t afford the treatment back then, his condition started to deteriorate gradually and made him rely completely on his elderly mother. Her mother, who is now in her 70’s, took care of his son for more than 2 decades.
“If I’ll die but he is sick, who will take care of my son?”, Ms. Tang said.
Li Hua’s dauntless struggle with the disease
Living your life in a wheelchair with your face pressed against your thighs is not easy for anyone. He endured this hardship for more than 27 years of his life. This serious deformity didn’t only affect his posture and daily functioning of his life but it was gradually pushing him to the verge of death too.
His deformed posture over the years put a lot of pressure on his vital organs and as result, their function was compromised. Especially, his lungs and his heart. Which is to say that it also caused cardiac problems as well as respiratory issues. Some clinicians also mentioned that all these complexities that are resulted from co-morbidities are not easy to treat. It is indeed a challenge.
Living life under such circumstances isn’t easy for anyone. It was just Li Hua’s willpower and his mother’s unprecedented love that kept him going. But there was a life-changing miracle that changed the folded man’s life for the rest of his years. We’ll see this up next.
The life-changing Miracle
After struggling through this chronic impairment came a sigh of relief in his life. Life-changing surgeries were performed by the surgeons at Shenzhen University General Hospital located in Southern China.
3 parts of Li's body were "connected": his chin to his chest, his breastbone to his pubic bone, his face to his thigh bone
How did it all happen and was it this easy? No, it wasn’t as seamless as it sounds in fact it was a test for the surgeons as well. It wasn’t surgery but a series of surgical procedures that were performed from June 2019 to December 2019 that made Li stand tall on his feet again. These surgeons labeled this convoluted task as difficult as “climbing Mount Everest.”
Li’s mother left no stone unturned for the treatment of his youngest son. According to her, she took him everywhere, paid the cost but nothing happened in the favor of his health. His mother was the one who took him to Shenzhen University General Hospital which is 500 miles from his home in the village of Younzhou.
The medical procedure changed Li’s life
Professor Tao Huiren and his fellow surgeons took 2 weeks to devise the plan for Li’s medical procedures and 3 months were taken to prepare for his surgery. It was a unique and complicated case to handle. To bring him back to his life and make him stand straight on his feet was not an easy task. Only the team of eligible surgeons was capable to pull it off.
There were in total 4 surgical procedures that were carried out in the span of 4 months. The longest of the procedure took more than 10 hours. All these procedures involved working on the sections of Li’s body and straightening the bones by breaking them.
Spending 10 hours in an operation theatre with a patient that you know might die in your hands is definitely not something that every surgeon would commit to. But Professor Tao made it happen and came out of the operation theatre successfully.
Li’s Life After Surgery
Surgical procedures were then followed by 6 months of rehabilitation. Different physiotherapies were carried on. After that finally, the folded man was able to stand on his feet with the help of a walker.
Mr. Li is no longer a folded man now as he can stand straight on his own feet without a walker (not for a longer period). This was the success story of the real-life superhero “the folded man.”