Tue, May 27, 2003 - Page 2 News List

SARS-stricken family reunites after losing father


The Chen family reunited and went home yesterday after battling SARS for more than 20 days in hospital, however, they made the trip without their father.

The father, who worked in the software business, died of SARS on May 5.

That same morning, Chen's son, a 14-year-old student at Taipei's Chin Hua Junior High School, performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the father after seeing him suffer severe shortness of breath and pass out.

All the son thought about at that moment was saving his father's life. At the time, neither the son nor his family were sure the father had contracted SARS.

The son said he would not think twice about performing mouth-to-mouth CPR again even if he knew that his father had SARS. He said he is positive that if the situation were reversed, his father would have done the same for him without hesitation.

Soon after the father died, the 14-year-old and the rest of his family -- his mother and 11-year-old sister -- began showing SARS symptoms.

The three were hospitalized at three different SARS-designated institutions.

Yesterday was the first time they had been together since early this month, at which time they had no idea their lives were to change so drastically.

When they met, they had to fight the impulse to hug each other after the life-and-death ordeal and remained at arm's length as they had been instructed by medical authorities in order to avoid being afflicted with the disease again.

The SARS ordeal seems to have turned the junior Chen into the man of the house overnight.

"The second we return to our house is the moment that we rebuild our home," Chen said.

"We will rebuild our home and lead a better life for our father," he said.

As the only son, Chen will have to go to a funeral parlor to recover his father's ashes and then organize a farewell service.

"To continue to be sad is useless," Chen said, adding that "studying hard will be our top priority, and I and my sister will probably study business management when we are older so we can help out our mother."

Chen's mother will take over the father's company. She said she believes that with the solid foundation that her husband has laid and his pleasant way of dealing with people, she will not encounter too many troubles in running the business.

She said her only concern is that her children may have a difficult time when they return to school because of having had SARS. She said she would like to tell society that SARS is not an incurable disease and plead to people not to label sufferers "the SARS accused."

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