It was a winter cold and there was a strong wind, but a young woman in her 20s sat in the doorway of her small house.
A cold, white-haired woman wearing a white coat with a black stripe across the chest was waiting for her.
It was May.
The woman’s name was Jang Song.
She was studying to be a doctor, but when the winter storm hit, she had no choice but to take a break from her studies and stay at home.
“I didn’t know what to do,” she says.
“Why would I want to go to university if I couldn’t go to the hospital?”
As the days passed, she noticed her eyes were watering.
“I thought it was because I was going to the doctor for a check-up,” she recalls.
“But it wasn’t.”
Jang had a fever.
The doctors at the hospital didn’t suspect anything.
“Then it got worse,” she remembers.
“It became very bad.”
As the fever increased, so did her anxiety.
Her lungs were not functioning.”
Jang thought she was going blind, but it turned out the flu was a complication of her illness.
Her lungs were not functioning.
The doctors were unable to find a cure for the condition.
“That was really painful.””
They told me I was dying and I didn’t feel any pain,” she said.
“That was really painful.”
Jong died two months later.
Her family is still waiting for answers about her illness, but they have no doubt it was preventable.
She had no symptoms of the flu, so her doctors assumed it was just a cold.
The family has paid for medical expenses, but the hospital where she died did not.
Jang’s father, Jang Sung, now 74, was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and has been struggling to live on disability payments ever since.
He has lost almost all of his savings and lives on a pension.
The hospital where Jang died did have a doctor who was treating her, but that doctor had to resign.
She didn’t go on to have a successful course of treatment, and she died without a diagnosis.
“What if I had been diagnosed with pneumonia?” she asks.
“If you’re sick, it doesn’t mean you’re dead.
You can still live.”
Jae Jang has never been able to fully understand why she died.
“At the time I was feeling very, very bad, but I couldn’st get my life back to normal,” she sighs.
“There was no way to go back.”
Her parents are both retired teachers, but both are now struggling to make ends meet.
She has a mortgage and pays for everything, including groceries, petrol and fuel.
Jae Jong, who is a retired lawyer, now relies on the support of a trust fund.
The family still has the bills from the emergency room visit and the bills for the doctor who treated her.
The Jang family is not alone.
More than 10 million people in the world suffer from a chronic condition called COPD, a condition that causes breathing problems and coughing.
Most of them are in rural areas where there are few health care professionals or facilities.
There is no cure, and the cost of treating the condition is huge.
In China alone, around $60 billion is spent on the condition each year.
“The health system has a huge budget and we have to pay for it,” says Han Xue, who lives in the northern province of Liaoning.
Han Xue is a resident of Chongqing, in the north of China.
She says her family has suffered the same fate as Jang.
“My parents are retired teachers who have no insurance, no job, no money,” she explains.
“When they retire, the only thing they can get is a job and a pension.”
Han Xue’s mother, who works as a cleaner in a public housing project, says she has had to ask her relatives to take on additional tasks to survive.
“We have to put our clothes in the washing machine or we’ll get sick,” she explained.
“Sometimes my brother will go to work and I won’t get enough food.”
Many of the patients treated at the Chongqings Health Centre suffer from COPD as well.
They suffer from chronic respiratory problems and the effects of the virus, which is called coronavirus A.
The symptoms of COPD include wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain.
They are usually self-limiting and usually go away within a few days.
In the short term, they are usually better than the average person.
But the virus can cause pneumonia and death in as little as two weeks.”COPD is a death sentence,” Han Xue