Wu Ju-ping and her broken arm

Passer-by saves China toddler in 10-storey fall” is the heading from today’s AFP news.

On July 2,  Wu Ju-ping, a 31 years old mother of a 7-month-old baby, risked her life to catch a neighbor’s 2-year-old toddler falling from a 10-storey high apartment.  She had caught the toddler with her right arm and fainted.   The falling toddler had a force of over 375KG (about 750 lbs).  The normal capacity of a human arm is 45KG.  Her right arm was fractured into multiple pieces.

The toddler girl had suffered no external injury.  But she has some internal injuries due to the immense shock when hitting the arm of Wu.  She is still under observation in an intensive care unit.

X-ray of Wu’s fractured arm

“This is my instinct– any  mother would have done the same thing.” (“这是本能,是一个母亲应该做的事情。”) Wu told a news reporter.

I will regret for the rest of my life if I had not stretched out my arms.” Remarked Wu.

According to her physician,  Wu would have been killed or paralyzed  if the toddler fall on her head.   She has a 95% chance of recovery and it will take 6 months.  Her medical bill is around RMB 50,000 (about US$7700).  The hospital will waive her bills.

Wu is a customer service rep in Alibaba, China’s version of Amazon.  Billionaire company chairman Ma Yun calls Wu “heroine” and “is honored to work alongside with a heroine.”

Netizens in China give Wu the title “The Prettiest Mother” (最美妈妈) and “Heroine Mother” because they think only maternal instinct could have pumped up her adrenaline to handle over 375KG fallling force.   They said that Wu is also the embodiment of the Confucian Utopian ideal of “Caring other elders as if they are your own elders; nurturing other children as if they are your own children”  (老吾老以及人之老,幼吾幼以及人之幼).

Wu’s 7-months-old baby visits her in the hospital

In terms of Chinese metaphysics, Wu is the “Nobleman” or “helpful person” of this lucky toddler.  In western world, she is the toddler’s “guardian angel”. 

Saving a life with the possibility of losing one’s own life is the ultimate karma credit that one can get.


  • Wu’s arm is healing without surgery with Chinese medicine
  • The toddler, Niu-niu was in coma for 10 days and woke up in July 11.  She is able to drink and move one hand.  The landing side of her body when falling may become paralyzed.
  • Accolades and award money are given to Wu.  She only accepts the RMB$ 200,000 from her employer Alibaba and donates the rest to charity.
  • Commercial and political interests try to get credit from her heroic deeds.
  • Her employer Alibaba, had a major scandal of cheating overseas buyers a few months ago, suddenly claims that Wu’s deed is a result of company’s emphasizes on morality and ethics.
  • Wu happens to be a Communist Party member, so the local political boss gives her a “3-8 red-flag master” title and run “Learn from  Wu Ju-ping” campaign.
  • Chinese mass media is hungry for every minute details of Wu’s past history– from her way of placing stationery in her desk to her early school life.  To their dismay, they do not find any heroic or extraordinary events that Wu had done in the past.  Wu is an “average” woman from a peasant family.
  • A motion to make the “Hands of the angel” statue of Wu’s hands  to commemorate her heroic deed is gaining momentum

UPDATES ON OCT. 20, 2011

  • Both Niu-niu and Wu were recovered from their injuries and released from the hospital at end of Sept. 2011 
  • A giant sculpture of two hands with a baby inside to commemorate this incident was unveiled to public on Oct. 1, 2011.  The name of the sculpture is “Mother’s hands” 
Wu and Niu-niu recovered from their injuries
“Mother’s hands” Sculpture

In the last few months, just in the city of Minneapolis here alone, there were a few incidents that toddlers had climbed out of window in tall buildings and failed to their death.  I thought of Ms. Wu when reading these tragic news. Niu-niu is extremely lucky running into his guardian angel Wu and has a second chance in life.

Ken Lai

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