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【SHINE】Young nurse sticks with colleagues to save lives

May 12, 2020      Author: Ke Jiayun

Yu Yuanding (right) and another medic from Renji Hospital work at the Shanghai Public Health Clinic Center in Jinshan District.

Not that long ago, Yu Yuanding, a nurse working at the intensive care unit of Renji Hospital, was preparing to quit his job and return to his native place in Chongming District. But just as he submitted his resignation letter to the hospital, the novel coronavirus epidemic broke out and compelled him to reconsider.

During the city's fight against the new virus, Yu and 27 other medics at a public health clinic center in Jinshan District, where local COVID-19 patients were treated, used their experiences and professional skills to save the lives of critical patients.

"My instructor Wu Wensan, also a male nurse at Renji Hospital, went to support his hometown in Hubei Province. I'm a Shanghai native and I decided to become a member of the public health clinic center. During this fight, we encouraged each other and promised to protect our own hometown," said Yu.

Wu was among the city's first group of medical workers heading to Wuhan on Chinese New Year's Eve on January 24.

Yu has been working at Renji Hospital for three years. After gaining some career experience, he was preparing to go back to Chongming, where he could be closer to his parents.

"My instructor made his way to Wuhan without any hesitation and set out when others were celebrating the Spring Festival, which touched all of us. I'm his student so I must follow his footsteps and make my own contribution to combat the novel coronavirus," explained Yu.

On February 2, Renji's first team of seven medics settled down at the clinic center. Nine days later, Gao Yuan, director of the hospital's critical care medicine department, led Yu and other six members to support the center's ICU. Yu, who is now 26, even spent his birthday there.

Over more than 80 days, medics from Renji treated eight critical patients and brought five of them into recovery. Yu was the nurse who spent the longest time at the center. Despite the days under quarantine, he continued to work for eight hours a day for 30 days.

Yu Yuanding (center) celebrates his birthday at the Shanghai Public Health Clinic Center.

Among his patients, an elderly man surnamed Chen had the longest and most complicated treatment. Chen was hospitalized for 73 days, including 40 days requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy. His caregivers called him "Miracle Chen" after his recovery.

When Chen was sent to the center before the Chinese New Year, he was in bad condition and was given ECMO treatment on February 13. The treatment met several challenges - serious inflammatory response, poor blood coagulation and intestinal problems - all of which required effort to overcome.

Yu's team became known to netizens thanks to pictures of them wearing protective gear with images of the Chinese cartoon characters Huluwa (Calabash Brothers). The Calabash Brothers are super-powered septuplets who were born from gourds and protect their grandpa, an old man who raised them, from evil forces.

"The charge nurse, Cui Shunyue, is the talented one who often drew different images on our protective clothing to add some spice to the routine work. One day, she asked me what I want on my clothes and I said the Calabash Brothers. They have seven brothers and we have seven members."

Yu Yuanding is on duty at the intensive care unit of Shanghai Public Health Clinic Center.

On Saturday, Yu and the other six team members returned to their hospital, with no local critical patients left at the center.

Prior to the outbreak, Yu saw nursing as just an ordinary job. Now though, he sees it as an important calling and has decided to remain with his colleagues as well as other critical-care patients like Chen.

"Now I've given up the idea of resignation and will stay in my position," he said.

A group photo of the medics from Renji Hospital who are supporting the Shanghai Public Health Clinic Center, including the seven "Calabash Brothers."

Yu Yuanding (right) and a colleague from Renji Hospital work at the intensive care unit of Shanghai Public Health Clinic Center.