China leukemia girl dies weeks after father embroiled in donation controversy

Father Luo Er speaking to the media during a press conference in response to his daughter's disease.
Father Luo Er speaking to the media during a press conference in response to his daughter's disease. PHOTO: CHINA DAILY/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

BEIJING (China Daily/Asia News Network) - The six-year-old leukemia-stricken girl whose father triggered a bitter controversy over his online fundraising for her treatment has died after a three-month struggle with her illness.

Luo Yixiao passed away at 6am on Christmas Eve, reported the paper.cn. Her parents have donated her body to Shenzhen University donation centre for medical research, the report said.

Yixiao was diagnosed with leukemia on Sept 8. Since then, her father Luo Er has kept journals about his daughter's progress on his personal account on the social networking app WeChat. Within half a month, the father had collected more than 32,000 yuan after his journal entries were reposted thousands of times.

As the girl's condition worsened in early November, Luo Er began to cooperate with marketing company Xiaotongren, which is owned by his friend Liu Xiafeng, to promote his journals. The company promised to donate 1 yuan for each repost of the journals published on its WeChat account, up to a ceiling of 500,000 yuan.

Frantic reposts were seen across social media, and netizens also donated to Luo through WeChat's "reward" function, which allows users to give financial rewards to authors of posts. By Nov 30, Xiaotongren had received over two million yuan on its WeChat donation platform alone.

 
 

The company said it would donate 500,000 yuan to support the sick girl, and the rest would be given to other charity programs.

But the situation changed dramatically when reports surfaced that Luo Er's family owns three apartments and most of his daughter's treatment expenses could be covered by medical insurance.

Many donors said they felt cheated. Luo's friend Liu was accused of taking advantage of the public sympathy to promote his company. Some argued that the company could have made its donation directly instead of devising ploys in order to boost its own exposure.

Confronting the criticisms, Xiaotongren company announced on Dec 1 that the company and Luo would use all the Yixiao's treatment through legal means.

In another interview early this month, Luo said his daughter, who turned six on Dec 7, was in a complicated condition as she was also suffering from hemophagocytic syndrome.

The father added he would only accept judicial investigation on related online allegations.