'Midnight Han' even saved his mother from death

Han Banchi (1856-1929), a Chinese medical practitioner in Songjiang, was so busy making house calls that he often returned home late at night. 
Ti Gong

Han Banchi's handwritten prescriptions

Ti Gong

Han Banchi's portrait

Han Banchi (1856-1929), a Chinese medical practitioner in Songjiang, was so busy making house calls that he often returned home late at night. He was nicknamed “Han Banye,” or “Midnight Han,” by his patients.

Han regarded all his patients equally and was especially good at treating moist heat (a symptom similar to inflammation), tuberculosis and various other kinds of epidemics. Quite often he was able to rescue patients from their deathbed. Among them was his mother Hu.

Born into a poor family, Han was brought up by his mother after his father’s death. The year Han turned 31, his mother became seriously ill. He spent several sleepless nights caring her at the bedside but eventually cured her.

Han had begun his medical career at 15 working as an apprentice at Tongshoukang Drug Store. Later he formally acknowledged Chen Lianfang, a renowned doctor, as his master.

After studying medicine for three years, Han began his practice in Songjiang. His fame soon spread but it also aroused the jealousy of a local educational officer.

The officer made things difficult for Han by sending him to look after culprits in prisons. Han was so harassed that he had to abandon his practice for a while and pursued officialdom in neighboring Zhejiang Province.

During that time someone said to him: “I’d rather be a good doctor than to be a good minister. A doctor, by rescuing tens of thousands of people, contributes more to the society than a minister. What’s more, a minister is forever ruled by his superior and don’t have the freedom a doctor enjoys.”

Han agreed and after the Revolution of 1911, resumed his medical practice in Songjiang.

A typical case that made Han even more famous was his treatment of Li Pingshu, then chief of Shanghai civil affairs bureau.

Li caught moist heat after he paid a visit to the city of Kobe in Japan by ferry in 1916. He became unconscious and nobody could solve the problem. Then someone recommended Han.

Han made a house call on Li, prescribed some medicine and soon cured him.

Besides his medical practice, Han also wrote medical books. Among them are seven volumes of “Emergency Cases,” the book of “Medical Analysis Brief” and the book of “Surgery Brief.” His second son, Han Fengjiu (1884-1964), followed in his footsteps and practiced medicine for more than 50 years.

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