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Struck Ohio State student’s mother: ‘All darkness ahead’

Ritika Shah / Lantern reporter

More than seven months after being hit by a bicyclist near Chumley’s on High Street, Ohio State student Yifan Gu remains in “fair condition” at the Wexner Medical Center.
Yifan Gu’s mother, Yinmei Gu, said at first she didn’t believe the initial phone call informing her of the accident on Sept. 6.
“They said she’s dying,” she said through an interpreter. “I was shocked, I could laugh, I could cry, holding the phone, waiting for it to ring.”
Yinmei Gu said four days after the accident, the hospital called again, saying there were signs of recovery and asking for consent to perform surgery on Yifan Gu’s brain.
Yinmei Gu said she gave the consent in hopes that the surgery would help her daughter recover.
Two days later, she arrived in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at the Wexner Medical Center to meet her daughter, who was in a vegetative state.
“She couldn’t hear anything, her eyes were closed. She had tubes all over her body,” Yinmei Gu said. “Her face was covered by the bandages. It was swollen. It didn’t look like my daughter at all.
“The doctor said she’s not getting better and that she may even remain in this state forever.”
Yifan Gu underwent surgery again on Dec. 19. Yinmei Gu said she believes the second surgery is the reason why Yifan Gu’s condition worsened.
Representatives from the Medical Center declined to comment, but OSU spokeswoman Gayle Saunders said thoughts and prayers continue to be with Yifan Gu and her family.
“Ohio State’s physicians and staff members continue to work closely with the patient and her family, as we have from the beginning,” Saunders said. “Due to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements, we are not at liberty to discuss details of any patient’s medical condition or care.”
However, Yinmei Gu still holds on to hope her daughter will recover.
“In the morning when I wash her face, she will smile,” Yinmei Gu said.
Yifan Gu’s OSU student health insurance only lasts for one more semester. After that, her parents must pay for her treatment.
“If Yifan is in this vegetative state, the insurance company will not pay,” Yinmei Gu said.
Although Yifan Gu’s tuition of $17,000 has been refunded, Yinmei Gu said, “The money is not enough.”
Yinmei Gu said the Medical Center has given the family until April 24 to leave the hospital. If they do not leave, they could be taken to court.
Yinmei Gu said she was given three options. One was to take her daughter to rehab but to supply the cost on her own. The other options were to rent a house and take care of her daughter by herself, or go back to China.
“I don’t see any of these options working,” Yinmei Gu said. “Rehab is too expensive. We are unable to find a house. The returning back to China option is also not available because none of the hospitals in China will take her as well.”
Yinmei Gu said if they are forced to leave, they will take the rehab option, but Yifan Gu does not meet the criteria to be admitted to rehab.
“Yifan is not well enough to go to rehab. So I don’t know what to do,” Yinmei Gu said.
A donation website was set up in February to raise money for Yifan Gu’s rehab treatment costs. The goal was to raise $50,000 but current donations total $84,488.
Individual donors gave from $5 to as much as $2,000.
Priyal Patel, a second-year in aviation management and Yifan Gu’s friend and former roommate, said she and Yifan Gu were extremely close.
“I was actually her emergency contact so I got a call a little after midnight (on the day of the accident),” Patel said.
Patel said that when she visited Yifan Gu in the ICU, she and Yifan Gu’s other friends met the parents of the James Daniel Hughes, the OSU student struck by a dump truck just one day before Yifan Gu’s accident.
“We all think that some better steps could have been taken,” she said.
According to a previous Lantern article, the Columbus Division of Police issued 241 citations in the University District the weekend after Yifan Gu’s accident. The citations comprised of jaywalking and bicycle violations.
Chris Bowling, Columbus Police Precinct 4 Commander, said safety on the road is “Just being aware of your surroundings.”
Bowling said when crossing the street, students should keep their heads up and leave their headphones off.
Bowling added students need to use crosswalks, pay attention to crosswalk signals and be careful at crossw
alks not controlled by traffic signals. Bowling also said bicyclists must obey traffic rules and skateboards are not allowed on the street.
Kayleigh Chevrier, a second-year in music and Yifan Gu’s friend and former roommate, said she has become more vigilant of traffic rules after her friend’s accident.
“I look everywhere I go when I walk. I make sure I can hear things; I can look around and know my surroundings,” she said. “You have to think constantly. It could be your friend. It could be you.”
Student Life spokesman, Dave Isaacs said thoughts are with Yifan Gu and her family.
“Student Life’s Student Advocacy Center continues to maintain contact with the family, assisting them in whatever way we can during this difficult time,” he said.
There has been no word from the bicyclist who struck Yifan Gu.
Yinmei Gu said she plans to take it step-by-step when it comes to her daughter’s recovery, but that it will be hard.
“It’s all broken down, falling to pieces,” she said. “It’s all darkness ahead of us. We can’t even see. We don’t know what to do.”

Sally Xia contributed to this article

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