The free medical service offered recently by Chinese naval hospital ship Ark Peace has won praise from Tongans, who have described Ark Peace as the ship of peace, life and friendship.
Currently, Ark Peace is heading for the countries in Central and South America for goodwill visit after wrapping up an eight-day visit to Tonga from Aug. 13 to Aug. 20.
During her stay in Nukualofa, capital of Tonga, Ark Peace fulfilled consultation and treatment for 5,532 persons, conducted auxiliary examinations for 2,598 persons, hospitalized 28 inpatients and performed 34 surgeries.
Coincidentally, the date of Ark Peace's current visit was the same as the first visit to the South Pacific island nation by her four years ago. This is a reunion of friendship and a get-together of happiness as well.
For James Latu, a 26-year-old military doctor in Tonga, it was lucky to reunite with his Chinese teachers in Nukualofa.
On Aug. 13, Ark Peace arrived at Port of Nukualofa. Amidst those greeting the ship on the wharf, a handsome young man, dressed in Changhai Hospital's doctor overall, was extremely excited.
It was Latu, who used to be a trainee of the Chinese Navy's Naval Medical University from 2011 to 2017, majoring in clinical medicine science. He was the first military trainee from Tonga who studied at the Chinese naval university and also the first undergraduate trainee from the South Pacific island nations.
"What a surprise, I could meet with my teachers from China in Tonga," Latu said. He met with his Chinese teachers and told them about his study, life and work after returning to Tonga.
As there is no military hospital at present in Tonga, Latu can only be employed at a local civilian hospital as a military doctor.
"I have a dream to establish the first military hospital in Tonga so that the men and women of His Majesty's armed forces can have their own special hospital like China," he told his Chinese teachers.
"This patient has asthma. Wheezing rale can be heard from the auscultator when expiration," Shang Yan, a doctor with the respiratory medicine department continued to instruct her trainee while treating the local patients. As a medical volunteer from Tonga, Latu was quite busy not only as interpreter but also as assistant doctor.
"I am reminiscent of the days as an intern doctor at Changhai Hospital when working with my teacher shoulder over shoulder to provide consultation and treatment for the public of Tonga," said Latu, showing a photo from his mobile phone taken when he was in China.
The photo depicts that he was treating a Chinese patient under the instruction of his Chinese teacher, Shang Yan. "I quite cherish the memory of good times as a trainee in China. I always take a look at the photos when missing you."
How time flies and it's time to bid farewell again. "I don't know whether or not the next reunion with you is available and when we have the reunion after this meeting," said Latu, who presented his teacher a special gift, a heart-shaped ornament engraved with his teacher's name.
"You are the most welcome to Tonga forever!" Latu bade farewell to his teachers.
Katonga, a 48-year-old accountant at Tonga High School, was given a new life after a successful operation onboard Ark Peace on Aug. 17.
"Thank you, Ark Peace, for giving me rebirth," she said to the Chinese military doctors after receiving a successful invasive chest closed-drainage.
Two years ago, Ikatonga accepted two surgeries at a local hospital as hydrops took place due to pulmonary infection. Unfortunately, the surgeries didn't cure her disease but left a psychological shadow, which is extremely painful, and the scar left after surgery is very conspicuous.
"When I almost lost my confidence, my daughter told me that the hospital ship from China was coming to Tonga for the medical service and that the Chinese military doctors must be capable." As encouraged by her daughter, Ikatonga went to Ark Peace for treatment.
Following embarkation, physical examination, hospitalization, surgery and so on, Ikatonga had her consultation and treatment completed within half a day onboard Ark Peace.
"For this time, I didn't feel any pain from the surgery and there is no scar left," said Ikatonga. Honestly, there is still a great risk on minimally invasive chest closed-drainage. Doctor Han Qinqi with the department of cardiothoracic surgery made deliberate examinations prior to her operation and repeatedly elaborated on the operation plan.
"This letter cannot express my gratitude yet. I will pray for you forever!" Ikatonga recovered quite well following the operation. She wrote a letter of appreciation. "After I am totally recovered, I will go to China to convey my sincere thanks."
Tonga is the fourth stop of Ark Peace's current mission and the ship paid her first successful visit to the South Pacific Island nation in 2014.