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Injured Chinese farmer can't afford surgery, amputates own feet

A farmer in China too poor to afford surgery was forced to use “shards of broken glass” to amputate his own infected feet after suffering intense pain.

Liu Dunhe, 44, could not afford the 10,000 yuan (about $1600) to pay for a proper surgery to remove his feet, which were riddled with infections brought on by frostbite, the South China Morning Post reported Thursday, citing The Beijing News.

A farmer who lives alone in a small town in Anhui province, Liu was working on his land in bare feet when they became frostbitten. He didn’t seek medical attention and soon his feet became swollen, infected, and incredibly painful as the tissue in his feet began to rot.

By the time he visited a local hospital, he needed amputation surgery, which he could not afford because he had no insurance. He returned home determined to do the amputation himself. He described it as “six hours of torment.”

“I used the glass to repeatedly cut through my muscle tendon. It was astonishingly painful,” Liu told The Beijing News.

“I had to swallow some alcohol to try to anesthetize myself when I couldn't stand the pain [during the process],” he said, but added the amputation “was a release.”

More infection and pain followed Liu’s self-inflicted surgery, so he told his brother of his plight.

When his neighbors heard Liu’s story, they took pity on him and brought him to a hospital this week. They raised nearly $3700 to help cover his medical expenses.

Liu underwent remedial surgery at the hospital and was given anti-inflammatory treatment Tuesday. He is expected to be discharged from the hospital within two weeks.

A medical insurance plan that costs about $11 a year would have provided coverage of up to 70 percent of Liu’s medical expenses, according to the district health authority.

But the farmer told the paper he chose not to enroll in the voluntary health insurance plan because it was a waste of money and he didn’t think he would need it. Local village officials have since subscribed Liu to a state health insurance plan and a handicap subsidy.