The Investment Scientist

An Update on My Best Investment of 2016

Posted on: September 4, 2017


_Enable image display to see picture_In December 2016, I wrote about how I came to know a little girl in rural China who suffers from thalassemia and decided to pay for her blood transfusions that cost $150 every 40 days. I called that my best investment in 2016 and I truly felt that way.

Since then, I have sent  $150 to them every month and kept in touch with them on WeChat.

Apparently Jia Jia’s homework essay did not touch only me, it also touched many other people. In the end, they received the equivalent of about $50k in donations.

Grandma took her to the best children’s hospital in Tianjin to seek treatment. One week’s stay there set them back more than $3000 and they decided they couldn’t afford that. So they came back to their town to seek treatment in the provincial hospital.

One day I got an essay from Jia Jia talking about how happy her grandma was, more happy than she had ever seen her. It turns out that Jia Jia needed a bone marrow transplant to cure the disease and a donor had been found.

But there was just a little problem. The provincial hospital had only successfully done bone marrow transplants on adults.

They had no experience doing the procedure on kids and the leaders of the hospital thought it was too risky to both Jia Jia’s life and the hospital’s reputation.

Guess what? Jia Jia wrote an essay to convince them that she was willing to take that risk. The leaders and doctors of the hospital were touched and her operation was scheduled on July 27th. I sent $750 to help pay for her operation. I know that’s a ridiculously small amount by American standards, but it goes a long way in the provincial hospital there.

Jia Jia walked through the valley of death during the operation and subsequent chemo treatment. There were times she barely moved her eyelids. The despair and desperate calls for help from Grandma were on full display on WeChat. I was doing my musical improv show in San Francisco at that time. I checked on her every hour and sent her encouraging words. But I wasn’t sure if Jia Jia would survive this. I prepared what I would say to comfort Grandma should Jia Jia die.

Then a miracle happened. Grandma’s despair and desperation were replaced by expressions of gratitude to the doctors on WeChat. She shared the moment Jia Jia sat up, and the moment she drank water. Then she shared a 10 second video clip in which Jia Jia said thank You to all of us who helped her.

All in all, I have donated about $1950. That’s not even half of my monthly mortgage payment. But what I gain is invaluable. Many years from now, I will be able to tell my grandchildren: “Grandpa had a hand in saving a little girl’s life and now she is a doctor.”

Schedule a Discovery review with me, or get my white paper for free: The Informed Investor: 5 Key Concepts for Financial Success.

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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.


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