CHEN REN WEI: When my wife was four months pregnant, I was wondering whether it would be a girl or a boy, like all other parents, I was thinking about it all the time. Then I had a dream, a very clear one. I dreamt my wife gave birth to a girl, and in the dream I gave her the name Chen Xin Ran, which means state of happiness. I think this dream is quite amazing because from my wife’s body shape and the way she behaved, everyone else thought she was going to have a boy. We didn’t do any medical examinations while she was pregnant. I was with her the day she gave birth and I saw immediately that it was a girl. So I told my wife about my dream and I said let’s give her the name I gave her in my dream. So we called her Chen Xin Ran. She was born before dawn on August 7, the day before the opening of the Olympics, and it was also the day we call Qi Xi, which is like Valentine’s Day in China. So her nickname is Xi Xi, one Xi for Valentine’s Day and the other one for the hours before dawn.
I was born in a small county close to lake Dongting. The lake used to be very big and the area where we lived used to be a flourishing place because it had a harbour. Then over time, because of some changes in the environment, the lake became smaller and the harbour stopped functioning. Finally the lake disappeared completely. My father was a worker; I think he was a very hard-working person. He took his family and moved away from the country into the city. Now we live in the capital of the province of Hunan. My father took his work very seriously and worked very hard. I started going to school a year or two earlier than others, so I was always around older children. That was a very special and interesting experience for me. People like I who were born in the 80’s didn’t experience so many difficulties as people who were born in the 70’s. Back then the economic situation was much worse. When China started to open up, people’s situation became better and better. This was reflected in my own life as well. I went from a small county to the province capital. Now my life is much more colourful.
I came to Changsha in my last year at middle school because I wanted to go to the best high school here. Fortunately, I passed the entry exam so I could study here. It’s a good high school, one of the best in the province or even in the whole country. We had to study quite hard but after classes our spare time was relatively relaxed. When I graduated, I had two options: to study computer science, or medicine. I chose medicine, because I thought that as a doctor I would be respected by other people, and I thought that would be a nice feeling. Later I came to this children’s hospital, it’s a hospital exclusively for children who suffer some disease. I’m in the heart surgery department; I operate children who have congenital heart disease. I work a lot and it’s quite stressful, the operations are usually very risky, but it makes me feel valuable and satisfied. I always say to my colleagues, when parents bring us a child with congenital heart disease, it’s our job to give it back to them healthy and happy.
Children with congenital heart disease cannot do all the things that other children can do. If they exert themselves just a little, they start breathing very heavily, they can’t do any sports or play like other kids. It makes me very happy when a child can have a normal life because of my and my colleagues’ effort. Of course we also feel a lot of pressure in this job, after all, parents have very high expectations when they put their children’s life in our hands. The average Chinese family is not very rich; an operation might cost a family the income of a whole year or even of several years. So as doctors, we feel a lot of pressure, both mental and physical. Our work is very intense. But it also makes me very happy. I’ve been doing this job for many years now and I’ve learnt a lot of things.