Netizens apologize after spreading rumors about dead girl's family

A Chinese family suffered from online rumors questioning their honesty in raising charity funds after their daughter died due to complications from an eye cancer.

Wang Fengya and her mother 

The death of a toddler girl with an eye cancer has been at the center of a heated debate recently after malicious online rumors circulated about the honesty of her parents in central China who had asked donors to help them with the medical cost to treat her.

The baby girl, younger than 3 years old, died due to complications from the eye cancer.

Online rumors alleged they spent the money on their son instead.

However, the case has taken a U-turn and apologies poured in from netizens after an official investigation cleared the couple.

An investigation launched by local authorities found the girl's parents spent all the raised funds on their daughter's treatment, Xinhua news agency reported.

Wang Fengya, from Taikang County, Henan Province, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in September 2017 and that's when her mother, Yang Meiqin, decided to raise money for her online. Yang planned to raise 150,000 yuan (US$23,476).

However, the little girl died on May 4 from the disease, just eight months after her diagnosis.

After her death, an article circulating online suggested her parents may have spent all the raised money on their son who has a cleft palate, leaving the girl to die.

The article triggered fury among Chinese netizens who criticized the couple for cheating the public and preferring their son's health to their daughter's.

Local authorities soon set up a special team to investigate the case.

According to their investigation, Yang and her husband Wang Hui raised just 38,638 yuan in online donations, including 35,689 yuan from fundraising platform Shuidichou and 2,949 yuan from WeChat. 

The couple spent almost all the raised money on their daughter's treatment, as evidenced by receipts. 

The grandfather of the family shows their receipts.

On May 25, the girl's grandfather went to the Charity Federation of Taikang County to donate the remaining 1,031 yuan.

The girl's doctor, Yang Rongguang, also the vice president of the Zhangji Town Health Center, confirmed that the couple had never abandoned the care of their daughter and expressed his angry over the rumor.

Yang Meiqin, the girl's mother, said she has been afraid to turn on her phone for days as she's scared to see the rumors and malicious comments about her family and her children online. 

"They should take legal responsibility," Yang suggested.

Yang Meiqin is finding it hard to cope with the false accusations of netizens.

The online furore ended with apologies from netizens, who felt sorry for believing and re-posting the unconfirmed rumor which, in the end, hurt an already grieving family.

"I feel terrible for spreading misinformation about a family who were already going through a tough time," one netizen said. "I will definitely pay more attention to whether or not something online is true from now on."

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