Korean actress steps up to help Taiwanese infant
Central News Agency
2014-06-30 09:57 PM
Taipei, June 30 (CNA) South Korean actress Lee Young-ae has donated around US$100,000 to help cover the hefty medical bills of a Taiwanese infant born in South Korea four months ago.

The baby girl, Meng Ke-li, who was released by the hospital after the bill was paid, arrived in Taiwan on Monday along with her mother. Meng's mother delivered her baby prematurely in a South Korean hospital after she slipped and fell in a hotel in Seoul while traveling in the city with her husband in late February. Meng, who was born two months ahead of schedule, weighed only 1,000 grams at birth. She was hospitalized at three hospitals and underwent two operations to treat biliary atresia, a liver disease, Tzu Chi Foundation, a Taiwan charity group that assisted the Meng family, said Monday. Over the past four months, Meng's medical bills accumulated to NT$4 million (US$133,915), and her parents were unable to pay.

The couple said in February that the Korean hospital was urging them to pay their medical bills as soon as possible. The couple appealed to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help put up the money, promising to pay it back at a later date, but to no avail. A couple who served as Tzu Chi volunteers in Korea learned of the family's ordeal and began raising money for the baby girl. Lee, a renowned actress in South Korea, found out about the case from the Tzu Chi volunteers and took the initiative to cover most of the baby's medical bills, Tzu Chi said. According to local media reports, Lee donated NT$3 million to help pay for the bills because she wanted to repay the support that Taiwanese people have shown her. It was unclear what the hospital was demanding of the parents or what it was prepared to do had the parents not been able to come up with the money, but media reports indicated that the baby was able to go home only because the bills were finally paid. Lee became widely popular in Taiwan after starring in the 2003 Korean historical drama Dae Jang Geum. The 43-year-old actress visit Meng and her mother at the hospital on Sunday, and Meng's mother repeatedly thanked the actress. Lee said she hoped that the baby, who now weighs 3,270 grams, can grow up healthy and be loved by many people. At Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Monday, Meng's tearful father greeted his wife and daughter upon their arrival and thanked everyone for their help. (By Bien Chin-feng and Christie Chen)

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