Thu, Jan 05, 2006 - Page 3 News List

First direct transfer of patient across the Strait approved

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Taiwanese patient suffering from a rare disease in China will be allowed to return directly to Taiwan on a charter flight during the Lunar New Year, officials said yesterday.

The transfer will be the first time a patient is transported from China to Taiwan without making a stopover at a third destination.

"[We] approved this case for humanitarian reasons and to meet the patient's medical needs during the flight," Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chairman Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said yesterday.

"Two Chinese hospital nurses are also allowed to accompany the patient," Liu said.

Although the government is allowing only Taiwanese passengers to make use of the Lunar New Year charter flights, officials decided to make an exception for the two nurses. The nurses will not be allowed to take a direct charter flight back to China, the MAC said.

The application was filed by the family of the patient, who is a Taiwanese businessman based in Shanghai.

The Immigration Office approved the request last Monday.

The patient, who suffers from a motor neuron disease, is scheduled to arrive in Taiwan on Jan. 20.

While there have been previous appeals to allow direct flights for people in need of medical treatment, the government has dealt with the situations on a case-by-case basis.

In December 2004, a sick baby born prematurely in Shanghai was allowed to return to Taiwan by means of the "three small links," which limit exchanges to stopovers in Taiwan's outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu and China's Fujian Province.

Last July, Lin Chi-ling (林志玲), a model who tumbled off a horse in China's Dalian city and broke her breastbone, made a brief stop in Hong Kong, even though her flight from Dalian to Hong Kong was a special medical evacuation plane. She then transferred to a another plane to Taiwan.

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