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The Story of an ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) Survivor

August 31, 2014 |   By He Yu, a Minghui correspondent

(Minghui.org) The global Ice Bucket Challenge—the campaign to raise awareness for ALS, a fatal neurodegenerative disorder often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease—has been very successful.

Many people now know about this disease, which the World Health Organization identifies as one of the top five terminal illnesses. Only 4% of ALS patients survive longer than 10 years. Most die from respiratory failure, usually within three to five years from the onset of symptoms.

Few know it better than Mr. Wang Zhiyuan, who was diagnosed with ALS in 1983.

Both medical professionals, Mr. Wang and his wife had strong hopes that they would defy the odds. In order to save Mr. Wang's life, his wife, a neurologist, managed to get a job at the Harvard Medical School so that her husband could benefit from the most advanced treatment available in the world.

Three years later, Mr. Wang also moved to the United States and started doing cardiovascular research at the same school.

As Mr. Wang's symptoms advanced and his health deteriorated, the couple lost hope. By the end of 1997, Mr. Wang was no longer fit to work at his job after two episodes of gastrointestinal bleeding. He couldn't even remember his home address, let alone do his lab work. He was thinking of returning to China, as he didn't want to die in a foreign country.

A friend told Mr. Wang about Falun Gong. At that point, he was willing to try anything that could extend his life. He learned the practice in February 1998 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston.

Within three months, he fully recovered from ALS – a miracle for which modern medicine still has no explanation. Here, he shares his story in the hope of helping other ALS patients.

Mr. Wang Zhiyuan at a Falun Gong rally in Washington, DC, in July 2014

Struggling to Survive

Mr. Wang graduated from the Fourth Military Medical University in China in the 1970s. He was a member of the first Chinese PLA Science and Technology Committee after the Cultural Revolution and he was on the editorial committee of the Flight Surgeon magazine.

In 1983 while his career was on the rise, he, a chief physician who had provided medical treatment to many patients, found himself developing symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which is considered incurable in both traditional Chinese medicine and modern Western medicine.

ALS is also known as motor neuron disease syndrome. As its name implies, the patients suffers gradual muscle weakening and atrophy as the spinal cord is affected. The symptoms start in the extremities and develop upward to the chest muscles; even those small muscles controlling speech and eye movements are not spared. The whole body appears as if it is being frozen.

Clearly conscious, the patient is fully aware that his body is gradually breaking down. He loses the ability to speak or express himself. He can no longer walk, breathe, or eat, and finally is reduced to skin and bones. In the end, the patient dies of suffocation.

“In less than three months after I was diagnosed with ALS, I went from 165 to 130 pounds. How weak was I? I felt tired and dizzy even going up just one flight of stairs,” he recalled.

Although he understood only too well the nature of the disease, Wang Zhiyuan did not give up hope. Most of his classmates and friends were directors, deputy directors, professors, and associate professors in large hospitals, and his wife also was a physician-in-charge in the Department of Neurology. He had great, if not the best, access to medical science and treatment in China.

However, after visiting many of China's most famous medical specialty departments and experts and trying a variety of traditional Chinese medicine, folk prescriptions, and qigong, he saw no improvement. He could only watch as his muscles continued to atrophy.

During his wife’s entire pregnancy, Wang Zhiyuan was hospitalized and could not be home to take care of her. He did not see his son until two hours after the baby was born.

However, even after he got home he still could not do anything. He did not even have the energy to pay attention to what was happening at home. He became very bad tempered, as if he had changed into a completely different person.

His wife was desperate: “I will be the sole hope for this family from now on!”

Seeking a Cure abroad Yielded No Improvement

She put her last hope in Harvard Medical School, a top medical institution thousands of miles away. Through hard work, she managed to gain entry to the school. However, she still could not find a way to eradicate or suppress the progression of her husband’s illness.

In 1998, Mr. Wang joined her at the same school to do cardiovascular research.

Twice he suffered complications from gastrointestinal bleeding, and he grew weaker. The second hemorrhage happened after he arrived in the United States. He did not have a blood transfusion in order to avoid infection, and his hemoglobin level dropped to only 6g, less than half the normal level.

Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying agent in blood. Reduced oxygen to his brain resulted in memory loss. He not only forgot his laboratory work, he also forgot his way home. Once home, he had to stay in bed, doing nothing. His relatives and friends all said that, because Harvard is such a top institution and so competitive, he would have to go back to China.

“There was really nothing left to be done. Imagine how I felt. As a doctor, I knew that there was no hope anymore. I was on the verge of a collapse,” he said.

Life and Hope Renewed

In February 1998, the weather in Boston started warming up, and spring came early. The long period of desperation also came to an end for Mr. Wang, as his life saw a turnaround. He received a letter from a friend in China that altered his seemingly irreversible trajectory.

The friend told him, “I have found it! I have been cultivating Falun Gong for half a year. This practice not only improves the physical health, it can also cultivate you to a very high level. This practice is a real righteous cultivation way, and the best one!” His friend shared a passion for traditional Chinese cultivation methods and hoped that Mr. Wang could recover by practicing Falun Gong.

After reading the letter, Mr. Wang immediately went to look for Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa). He finally found a Falun Dafa Nine-day Lecture Video class at MIT.

“On the first day, we watched Master Li Hongzhi's Fa lecture video for over an hour. The veteran practitioners then taught us how to do the exercises. As soon as I sat down in a (loosely) cross-legged position, I felt a warm stream flowing down from my head to my toes with such a strong field of energy that I could not even imagine.

“Hearing Master explain that to start cultivation one had to be a good person, why one needs to be a good person, how to cultivate our minds to be a good person, and how to practice Falun Gong, I felt deeply touched. Master’s words reached deep into my heart! I could not hold back my tears, which ran down my face and soaked my clothes. I had to lean forward to let my tears fall on the floor..."

That day, after being busy in the lab all day long, he got home after the class ended at midnight. "If it had been like the days before, it would have been impossible for me to hold myself together that long. I was surprised how alert my mind was, how bright my eyes were, and how keen my hearing was. I felt relaxed and energetic – a feeling that I had forgotten for more than a dozen years!"

During the fourth and fifth classes, the pain in his stomach, which had recently hemorrhaged, and the pain from his duodenal ulcer, enteritis, urinary tract stones, etc. were all gone. “I felt I was wrapped in a warm cluster of energy all day long, and was warm and comfortable” he said.

After the nine classes ended, Wang Zhiyuan eagerly listened again and again to Master’s Fa Lecture recordings. He listened while he was walking and eating, and sometimes he even did the exercises in his dreams. Later, he started reading one lecture of Zhuan Falun a day, and sometimes he read two or three lectures in one day. "When I read the book the seventh time, a wonderful thing happened to me.

"Every time I opened Zhuan Falun, the pages radiated a red light that became more and more red as I read the book. The color was like red-hot coals. And sometimes the words themselves glowed with a golden light! I came to understand that Zhuan Falun is really a heavenly book," he told us.

Within three months after Mr. Wang Zhiyuan started cultivating Falun Gong, not only had all his illness symptoms disappeared, his had regained the pounds he had lost and even weighed more than before the illnesses. His energy and memory all returned, and the muscle twitching, muscle atrophy, and muscle weakness all disappeared. His hemoglobin level returned to normal. From a medical point of view, red blood cells have a life span of approximately 120 days. That his hemoglobin recovered in just 90 days was almost a miracle.

Wang Zhiyuan later went to work for Massachusetts General Hospital. The physical examination for new employees showed that he had fully recovered! He was full of energy and slept only five hours a day. In comparison, before his recovery, he still felt muddleheaded after a dozen hours of sleep. When a Boston Globe reporter came to interview him, he could not believe his eyes, “Mr. Wang Zhiyuan was jogging!”

After he started cultivating Falun Dafa, a new world full of vigor and vitality unfolded before him.

A Supernormal Science

Wang Zhiyuan shares his experiences and understandings at a Falun Dafa Cultivation Experience Sharing Conference

It has been 16 years since his recovery in 1998. Of his miraculous recovery, as a professional in the medical field, Wang Zhiyuan said with deep feeling, “This is what current empirical science cannot explain, because Falun Dafa is a supernormal science. It is like every new scientific discovery. At first, people do not understand the new discovery, but, in time, they learn to accept it. It may take the same process for people to understand Falun Gong.”

From cultivating Falun Gong, Wang Zhiyuan came to understand that human thought and the material body are connected. The human body is naturally in harmony with nature and has the ability to resist harsh elements of the external environment.

The modern human world has made people's thoughts more and more complicated. When people’s thoughts are no longer pure, their bodies’ normal mechanisms get interrupted and become unbalanced, and they then become sick. Dafa cultivation can correct the human bodies’ mechanisms and restore them to their normal or even better condition.

“Falun Dafa is a great cultivation way of high virtue. It teaches people that the most fundamental principles of the universe are Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. It also teaches people to be kind and good. It is good for others and for oneself to speak the truth, to be kind to others, to be considerate of others, and to deal with difficulties with forbearance.

"People's physical health is closely related to their mental state. A kindhearted, sincere, optimistic, and open-minded person will have true physical and mental health. Dafa cultivates both the physical body and the mind, and it allows a person to achieve physical health with noble thoughts, to become a truly good person, and to even become a person with extraordinary capabilities.”

Among Falun Gong practitioners, the miraculous recovery of Mr. Wang Zhiyuan is not an isolated case. Countless people of different ethnic backgrounds with incurable illnesses achieved a rebirth of their body, mind, and spirit after beginning cultivation.

As early as September, 1998, the State Sports General Administration of China conducted a survey of Falun Gong practitioners in Changchun. Among the 12,553 Falun Gong practitioners surveyed, 77.5% of them achieved total recovery or basic recovery; 20.4% of them had improved health. The effectiveness rate of Falun Gong cultivation in healing and improving health achieved 97.9%. Practicing Falun Gong saved more than 21 million yuan in medical expenses every year. The average saving per person per year was more than 1,700 yuan.

For more examples of practitioners’ recoveries from terminal illnesses, please refer to Life and Hope Renewed in the Minghui Book Series. http://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2011/3/23/123975.html

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Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa) is an advanced practice of self-cultivation based on the Buddha School of teachings and introduced to the public by Mr. Li Hongzhi in May 1992. This practice is guided by the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Today, more than one hundred million people are practicing this Great Way. While bringing people to high levels, Falun Gong practice has played an immeasurably positive role in stabilizing society, and improving people’s health and moral standards.

On July 20, 1999, the Chinese Communist Party began a campaign of persecution to try to eradicate Falun Gong. This persecution has not only affected Falun Gong practitioners, it is also trying to destroy the ethical principles and spiritual values of all people. Falun Gong practitioners have responded by clarifying the truth worldwide to stop the persecution.