A young lawyer suffering from spinal muscular atrophy called on the government yesterday to provide him with medical and travel assistance when he goes to the US this summer to study at Harvard Law School.
“I’ve always dreamed of studying abroad since I was little,” said Chen Chun-han (陳俊翰), a 29-year-old lawyer who has been accepted by the Ivy League US college.
Paralyzed from the neck down and relying on a wheelchair for his mobility, Chen said at a press conference in Taipei that he needs more help if his dream is to come true.
Chen said that his condition would prevent him from traveling back and forth between the US and Taiwan to get his three-month supply of subsidized prescription medication.
Also, despite being willing to help reduce his family’s financial burden, Chen would not be able to participate in national-level scholarship examinations this autumn, because it would be too tiring to travel back to Taipei from Massachusetts.
“I hope the government can modify relevant regulations to allow physically and mentally challenged people to pursue their dreams,” said Chen, who also petitioned President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Chen has received praise for his hard-working attitude. After graduating from National Taiwan University he became a licensed lawyer and accountant.
His mother, Hsieh Chi-jen (謝季珍), said that although she intends to accompany her son to Harvard next month, she is worried about the medical attention he will receive while in the US.
Not only will the family need to look for a suitable physician and a medically-qualified part-time helper, it will also need to purchase an artificial respirator, which costs about NT$300,000 (US$10,020), his mother said.
Representatives of the Bureau of National Health Insurance and the Bureau of Health Promotion who also attended the press conference said they would pass on Chen’s message and discuss ways they can help him.