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Dr. Wang King-Ho --- a Story of Love

Born on April 23, 1916 in the Beimen township of Tainan County, Wang King Ho entered Beimen Public School (former Beimen Elementary School) at the age of seven, and continued his studies at Tainan’s Chang Jung High School where he had received Christian education. Although the degree of Chang Jung High School was not admitted by the Japanese colonial government at the time being, after graduation he decided to go abroad to Japan with his classmates for further education. In 1941, he also graduated from Medical School of Tokyo(東京醫科大學)and had practiced medicine in Japan for a period of time. Then he married Ms. Mao Be Mei in the following year (1942). After working as a surgeon for two years at Ohkubo Hospital(太久保病院) in Tokyo, Wang king Ho suddenly come back to Taiwan in the midst of World War II for taking care of his seriously ill mother, and he had settled down ever since.

As Wang King Ho began working at Provincial Tainan Hospital, he also gained acquaintance with the Tainan Presbyterian Church(台南長老教會) and was introduced to Mrs. Lilian Dickson from the Mustard Seed Inc., along with Dr. Hsieh Wei who had been providing free medical treatment at that time. This episode initiated the opportunity for his serving Blackfoot Disease patients afterwards. Taiwan was restored soon after,and his King-ho Clinic was founded. Then he was nominated as the first township administrator of Beimen, and afterwards he was elected as Tainan County’s councilor twice, while he also took up the post of the President of Farmer’s Association. As a consequence of the jostling between local sects, he was incriminated and sentenced to 23 days of prison--- although justice was eventually reclaimed, he then held no more anticipation towards politics and chose to dedicate his full time to medical fields.

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Later on a few clergymen from the Tainan Presbyterian Church(台南長老教會)visited Dr. Wang King Ho and asked him to help out with the evangelism(佈道會)(1959). A few months after the institute was established, some professors from the Tainan Theology University visited Beimen and were astonished by the sight of those pitiable Blackfoot Disease patients who were not able to seek medical treatment for their illness. Mrs. Lilian Dickson from the Mustard Seed Inc. was aware of the patient’s needs in Beimen, hence contacted Dr. Wang King Ho and decided to offer free medical treatment for the needy in King-ho Clinic’s waiting room. All free medical treatment was sponsored by funds from the Mustard Seed Inc. and donations from the Christian society. Dr. Hsieh Wei who was currently located at Puli Township, would also pay weekly trips to Beimen to perform operation for the patients in need. From then on began the road of their free service for Blackfoot Disease patients that continued for nearly 25 years. Mrs. Lilian Dickson, Dr. Hsieh Wei   and Dr. Wang King Ho became the earliest redeemers for Blackfoot Disease.The number of its free clinic patients even reached a record of 80 people at a time, mostly patients from Beimen and Xiejia in Tainan County, and Budai and Yizhu in Chiayi County.   

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Dr. Wang King Ho, as well as all the other doctors and nurses, devoted their full love and care to each and every patient. They would carry those who could not walk and carefully clean their wounds, as Dr. Wang’s wife, Mrs.Wang Mao Be Mei would prepare meals for the poor and patients, while Dr. Wang also comforted the patients’ mental pain by leading them to sing and pray together, enabled them to rest their tired body and soul for have a more peaceful life. If there were poor families that could not afford to hold funeral affairs for those who passed away, Dr. Wang would buy wooden planks to make a coffin in person for the dead and also take care of the burial. It completely showed his selfless love and compassion for the patients. During this period of time, other organizations began coming to Beimen and offered different types of free medical treatments, or shared preaches and blessings with the people. Beimen church was constructed and inaugurated within two years.

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Patients with Blackfoot Disease often felt hopeless and useless as they were disabled and could not lead a normal life. Dr. Wang understood their worries therefore held a proposal to some government officials while they were visiting, suggesting that they should establish an arts and crafts training station to help the patients overcome their sickness and have a job of their own. The authority concerned did make some progress and started to raise funds in order to establish the training station, yet the program was forced to halt after eight months due to financial difficulties. Dr. Wang was deeply concerned about this matter, and turned to Mrs. Lilian Dickson for support, hoping that the career training and employment assisting program could be carried on. Therefore, in March, 1963, a straw matting factory for Blackfoot Disease patients was found and managed by the Wang couple for another 17 years, until the Taiwan provincial government took over in 1978.

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The contributions of Dr. Wang and his wife soon spread out and they gained high reputation worldwide. They were nationally honored for their Respectable deeds twice (in 1963 and 1966 respectively), and Dr. Wang also received another award in 1968 from the Providence President (省主席). After Mr.Chiang Ching Kuo visited the Blackfoot Disease free clinic as the Premier of Executive Yuan, he instructed the province government to establish a BFD Prevention Center in Beimen Township to take in all of those Blackfoot Disease patients. In 1984, the free clinic accomplished its temporary mission and shut down with pride. Dr. Wang was called “the fairy-like King-ho”, for the patients thought of him as a magical fairy sent from above to save them from their pain

After the free clinic shut down, Dr.Wang King Ho continued his medical career. In 1985, his wife, Mrs. Wang Mao Be Mei had her left foot amputated due to brain vessel embolism and her diabetes disease. She had to rely on a wheelchair ever since the operation, yet Dr. Wang and their children took great care of her and accompanied her throughout the following years until she passed away peacefully in 1995, age 74. In the following years, Dr. Wang was honored with many exclusive awards, including both the “Lai Hor Medical Service Award” and the “The North American Taiwanese Medical Association Award of Medical Service” (北美洲台灣人醫師協會 醫療服務獎) in 1993, “Taiwan Provincial Medical Association Medical Dedication Award” (台灣省醫師公會 服務醫界貢獻殊偉獎) and “Medal of Health---Second Class” (衛生署二等衛生獎章) from the Department of Health, Executive Yuan in 1995. In 1996, Dr. Wang decided that since their medical center was getting on the right track and the Beimen Hospital was already in construction, it was time for him to close King-ho Clinic and retire from his medical career, marking fifty years of devotion to the medical field. He received the highest honor in the medical field in Taiwan, the “Medical Dedication Award” in 1997. Within the same year, he received a plaque awarded by the former president Lee Dong Huei, and in 2007 he was awarded with the “Jing Xing Medal--- Third Class” (三等景星勳章) by Chen Shui Bian who was the President at the time.

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 In his medical career which lasted over half a decade, Dr. Wang dedicated most of his time to Blackfoot Disease patients. His selfless love and care was unquestionable, and his devotion has been highly respected by the public, giving him the name of being the “Father of Blackfoot Disease”. Although his story took place several years ago, it has still been praised for many generations. In 1997, director Zhi-yong Zhang adapted the novel “A Tweeting Bird” (一隻鳥仔哮啾啾)written by Chong-xiong Huang based on Dr. Wang’s story into a movie. The film later won the best film award in the Asia Pacific Film Festival.

     In order to let this memorable story of Dr. King’s life be remembered and passed on, Tainan County sought for Dr. King’s approval and reconstructed his old clinic into the Taiwan Blackfoot Disease Socio-Medical Service Memorial House in 2007 to honor Wang’s selfless dedication and the history of the Blackfoot disease.
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