A decade later, a survivor journeys to thank his saviors
Peng Guohua, 47, who was rescued after being trapped for 172 hours in a mine shaft after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, visited Shanghai Changzheng Hospital last month to thank the medics who saved his life.
“We have been in contact by phone in the past decade,” he says. “But I wanted to come to Shanghai and thank them personally.”
Peng’s survival, described as a “miracle” at the time, was retold in a movie that touched millions of Chinese.
Peng and his 46-year-old wife Wen Youhui now live in a new house in their once-devastated town. They sell farm products from his tricycle.
“We are now living a life of self-sufficiency,” he says.
The couple brought Shanghai medics some honey from their hometown and shoe pads handmade by Wen.
“I hope my benefactors can one day come back to my town and see how it has changed in the intervening years,” he says.
Peng tells Shanghai Daily that the disaster changed his whole outlook on life.
“The most important thing is that our family is together,” he says. “No matter what happens, we can always go forward.”
Peng says the seven days he remained trapped are forever etched on his mind.
“I was working in the mine when the earthquake happened,” says Peng. “It blocked the entrance with mud and stone. There was nothing but darkness. It was the thought of my wife that gave me the will to live.”
He used his miner’s helmet to collect some rainwater for drinking and ate some paper he found nearby. As the days passed, he was forced to drink his own urine.
Knowing that cries for help would sap his strength, Peng tried to keep calm, always believing that he would be rescued.
After Peng was rescued, firefighters carried him over rough mountain roads for eight hours to an ambulance. He was sent to the rescue station of Changzheng Hospital.
Upon arrival, he was severely dehydrated, and medics feared kidney failure. After receiving fluid infusions, his condition improved.
Another quake victim saved by Changzheng Hospital medics was 40-year-old He Chenggui, who was buried beneath the rubble of a collapsed house for nearly five days.
He was staying at home of his elderly parents when the earthquake stuck.
The old couple used their hands to dig him from the ruins. Once they had extricated him, they had to walk 30 kilometers before they came upon a military vehicle.
He was unconscious when he finally arrived at the medical station. Internal bleeding had swelled his stomach to the size of a basketball.
His life was saved after emergency surgery that lasted 45 hours. When he finally awoke, he gave the medics a thumbs-up, smiling through his tears.