Jihui Zhang – China

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Zhang Jihui is a head nurse in the general ward of the No. 1 Hospital in Guangzhou City. During the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) in China in 2003, she accepted the assignment to work in the temporary Sars ward without hesitation. She worked 12 to 16 hours per day for 83 days without adequate supplies of oxygen and water. She served patients selflessly with love and courage. Her efforts have deeply impressed each of her patients, who come to understand what an “angel in white” really means.

She says: “Let us give others convenience, and give ourselves difficulties; give others happiness, and give ourselves sadness; give others safety, and give ourselves risks”.


Jihui Zhang – China

She works for the no.1 People’s Hospital in Guangzhou City.

Zhang Jihui, born in 1963, is the head nurse of no.1 People’s Hospital in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province. During the SARS period in 2003, she cared for patients without considering her own safety. Later she published a book called ‘Diaries of the Head Nurse’, which was much acclaimed by the public.

In the most critical period of SARS, Guangzhou set up a special ward for SARS patients. As an ordinary head nurse of the no.1 People’s Hospital, Zhang volunteered to work at the frontline. She worked continuously in the special ward for almost three months, days and nights.

On 17 February 2003, Zhang and her colleagues received their first batch of patients at 11.00 am; there were 15 doctors and 35 nurses doing shift duty in the ward. Zhang, together with some others, never left their work. Zhang started everything from scratch. She made plans, divided wards and led nurses to deliver medical supplies. She didn’t stop working until midnight, often running to save time.

Besides, she had to set up different kinds of regulations and new work systems to cope with the SARS situation. These systems were complicated and involved more time. After a few days of such tiring work, the feet became swollen making it difficult to wear shoes. Yet none of the SARS ward personnel wanted to leave their work.

Zhang was mainly in charge of antisepsis work and outside connections, including the coordination of supplies, the three meals for the patients, and answering over 100 telephone calls per day. These duties fully occupied her time.

On the third day of admission of patients, she suffered from high fever. It was the period when they had the largest number of patients to treat and the most severe cases; the work in the wards was not systematized. Zhang, feeling completely exhausted, continued to work

Facing SARS at such close quarters, Zhang was not spared from fear and anxiety. The death of the first SARS patient was a terrible blow and Zhang and her colleagues present in the ward could not help weeping. That night, many patients in the ward became sleepless, laughing and crying without reason, or speaking unconsciously.

One woman patient grabbed her hand and said: “ Head nurse, please don’t leave me alone. I am afraid, really afraid.” Facing this, she used her limited resting time to encourage the patients not to give up.

Facing SARS as a mother, it was impossible for Zhang not to miss her child. Once when she was resting, she received a call from her daughter, saying: “Mother, I miss you. Please come back and I will never make you angry again. I will sing songs to you.” Listening to her daughter’s innocent voice, Zhang was about to cry and couldn’t say a word.

Facing SARS as an individual, Zhang thought of death and being infected. But she told herself and her colleagues: “Can we avoid being infected by other things, such as love and smiles, passion and illness? Let’s see who will be infected by these things faster than the others. As for illness, let’s overcome it by our calm smiles.” Thus smiles won the day and heroes were born out of a continuous struggle.

In this struggle, Zhang feels she has just done her duty, like all other medical personnel around her. She does not feel that she sacrificed more than others. Picking up her pen, she recorded many touching scenes which happened around her colleagues fighting SARS in the ward, using up her very limited rest time. Usually she didn’t stop working until 10 pm, so during the day she wrote down things happening around her on a piece of paper.

After accumulating 5 to 6 pieces of paper, Zhang would organize them later putting them into her diary at night before she went to bed. Tears often ran down her face when she was recording the events of the day and her pen felt sometimes heavy and sometimes light in her hand.

How could she stop herself from crying when she wrote about the story of Dr Zhao Ziwen who was only 20 centimeters from the face of the patient as he fixed the respiratory tube for her? Was he not afraid of death? But he said, “At that time, I only thought of rescuing her by letting her breathe smoothly. Time is life.” One nurse rushed back and forth doing the necessary work and when Zhang asked her to rest, she pleaded: “

Head nurse, please let me work until the end.” If someone felt exhausted, there would be another to fill his/her post. Seeing this devotion to duty around her, Zhang felt encouraged to push herself harder. But she could never have imagined that, afterwards, her Diaries of the Head Nurse, published in the People’s Daily, would cause such a stir. People all over the country responded positively and she received letters from all over the country, and even some from the US.

In August 2003, as a woman representative of the medical sector from Guangdong Province, Zhang was received by the leaders of the central government, including Chairman Hu Jintao .Chairman Hu said, “ We shall learn from you.” The woman vice premier Wu Yi said, “ We thank you for your good work, my colleague.” Tears ran down Zhang’s face. She said, “ It was this ‘masking spring’ that pushed me from being an ordinary nurse to the forefront of the society. The honor should go to all the courageous medical personnel”. (1000PeaceWomen).

Sorry, I can’t find more informations about Jihui Zhang, China in the Internet, being sure it is the wanted person.

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