Westside : UCLA Student Saves a Life Via the Internet

A graduate student at UCLA has combined the Internet, computer technology and medical sciences to help treat a 21-year-old woman, Zhu Ling, who lay comatose in a hospital thousands of miles away in China.

Xin Li, a graduate student in the department of radiological sciences, received e-mail messages from Zhu Ling’s friends in China, who were seeking the advice of medical professionals in the United States. Chinese doctors had tried to treat the young woman but had no luck in bringing her out of the coma.

Using the Internet, Li and Daniel Valentino, assistant professor of radiological sciences, contacted doctors and medical facilities in the United States. Li digitized Ling’s medical file--including radiographic images, such as CT and MR scans, photographs, pathology reports and blood lab results--and sent the information over the Internet so medical professionals could review it.

The proposed diagnoses that came back to Li’s e-mail address indicated that Ling had thallium poisoning. Thallium is a toxic element used in making photoelectric cells and rat poisons. The Los Angeles County Poison Control Center suggested a treatment devised by Dr. Ashok Jain of its staff, and Li passed the information along to Ling’s family--via the Internet.


According to e-mail messages that Li has since received from Ling’s family, her doctors were hesitant at first to use the Internet-gathered information. But Ling’s family convinced them to give it a try--and the young Chinese woman is recovering.