1993 / 11月
陳醫生除了行醫之外，在其專業醫學領域中，也有不少學術理論和實務經驗。除有廿餘種的專著及論文外，並有眼科儀器發明。民國六十七年在日本Japanese Journal of Ophthalmalogy發表The Visibility of Hai-dinger's Brushes，曾收到美、法、以色列、德國、瑞典及捷克等國的教授來函索取抽印本，民國四十九年及六十四年，先後發明「電波操縱迴轉式視力檢查表」及「黃斑部檢查儀」兩種，對眼科醫學投注的發展有所助益，並曾多次獲獎表揚。
Wei Hung-chin /photos courtesy of Diago Chiu /tr. by Robert Taylor
He has spent his whole life helping people as a physician, and is not only respectfully known as a "saint" in his home town of Luotung, but has even received long letters of encouragement from Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the "Father of Africa."
But now in old age, Dr. Chen Wu-fu, who has dedicated his life to the sick, is himself stricker with illness.
At 75 years old and suffering from liver cancer, between saving others and saving himself, what unusual insights does Dr. Chen have?
Although his face shows obvious signs of fatigue, today he has still gone to Taipei and then to Ilan, to receive the Department of Health's Grade One Health Prize and the Yang-Shan Culture and Education Foundation's Kavalan Prize, in recognition of his work in the medical treatment of the blind and of his contribution to the people of Ilan County.
Although these two awards, presented on the 16th of last month, are by no means the only outstanding distinctions which Dr. Chen Wu-fu, now retired, has received during his lifetime, they nonetheless make an honorable footnote to a life which has been devoted to education and training for the blind and service to society.Charming eyes!
Chen Wu-fu was born in 1918 in Luotung Township in Ilan County, and at the age of 22 passed the entry examinations for the medical school at Japan Imperial University (now National Taiwan University).
The course of Chen Wu-fu's life was decided at medical school. At that time he became fascinated by the precise structure of the human eye, and so he chose to specialize in the unpopular field of ophthalmology. Because he had chosen ophthalmology he took up a highly self-disciplined lifestyle He forced himself to strictly abstain from smoking and drinking, avoid anger, lead a settled, regular life, maintain a placid frame of mind, and not even to pick up heavy objects, so as to avoid any physical or mental imbalance which might make his hands unsteady and thereby affect the quality of his treatment of people's eyes.
After graduating from Imperial University, he first worked in the ophthalmology department at Taiwan University Hospital. But in order to repay his debt to his home town, at the age of 28 he decided to leave Taipei and return to Luotung, where he opened his "Wu-fu Eye Clinic" and began practicing medicine for the benefit of the people of his home town.
In days gone by, the social status of physicians in Taiwan was very high, especially in a small place like Luotung with only a handful of doctors, and everybody looked up to them.
However, Dr. Chen has never believed that physicians are a race apart. Once, after coming to him for treatment a patient very much wanted to shake hands with him to express his gratitude, but feared that for his rough farmer's hands to shake the doctor's would be impolite. Dr. Chen saw the cause of his embarrassment and immediately stepped forward to grasp his hand, saying sincerely: "I like nothing better than to shake rough hands like these, for they are hands with real life."
It goes without saying that at Dr. Chen's clinic diagnosis, treatment and medicine would often be given to poor people at reduced prices or even free of charge; but more amusingly, poor people who went to the Wu-fu Eye Clinic for treatment not only had nothing to pay, they might even be given money to take away with them.
Until he retired, Dr. Chen was busy treating patients from morning till night almost every day, and had no time to spend money on anything. But strangely, although Mrs. Chen gave her husband some spending money every day, by evening the doctor's pockets would often be empty, though he had been nowhere but the clinic. Perplexed, his wife surreptitiously made inquiries among the nurses at the clinic, and only then did everything become clear: whenever he came across needy patients, apart from treating them free of charge, he would often dig out some of his spending money and slip it into their hands or pockets.Not only treating eyes:
Dr. Chen is an ophthalmologist, but in the old days in country areas where medical resources were limited, anyone with the least knowledge of doctoring often had to play the role of an all-round expert. So Dr. Chen often had to "fish in other waters," and look after other things than just eyes.
Wu Sung-he, who decided two years ago to retire to his native Ilan County after being in business in Taipei for thirty years, once received such help, and has the deepest admiration for Dr. Chen.
Thirty years ago, Wu Sung-he's father had injured his spine through heavy labor, and over the years his condition gradually grew worse, to the point where even the tissues around his spine were swollen with pus. Seeing that his condition was critical, the impoverished Wu family were at their wit's end until at a friend's suggestion they used a wooden handcart to bring the patient to Dr. Chen's clinic in Luotung. After taking a look at Mr. Wu, Dr. Chen felt the situation was serious, and also saw that he should be moved as little as possible, and so from then on each day Dr. Chen cycled all the way from the town of Luotung to Teh-an Village in Tungshan Rural Township to visit his patient. Finally, seeing that old Mr. Wu was in a bad way, Dr. Chen pulled the last trick out of his bag by getting hold of some of the most expensive antiinflammatory drug available at that time to inject into his patient. Wu Sung-he remembers to this day the doctor's firm, resolute tone. "He said: 'All we can do now is try our best!'" Wu Sung-he says Dr. Chen injected his father with two vials of the drug, and after four days the crisis had passed. Old Mr. Wu was later able to have surgery to treat his spine, and went on to live to be over 80, only passing away just a few years ago.
It was the deep impression of the suffering experienced by blind people which he gained while practicing medicine which started Dr. Chen thinking about how, apart from passively giving help to those who came to him for treatment, he could do more to bring light into blind people's darkness.
"Apart from human beings, there are no other animals which can survive if they lose their sight. Because humans can help each other, the sighted can assist the blind," says Dr. Chen. If the sighted do not help the blind, then just like blind animals, blind people will lose out in the fight for survival.
It was just this innate human compassion which prompted Chen Wu-fu to set up at his own expense the "Mu-Kuang Rehabilitation Center for the Blind" in Ilan County in 1959, in the hope that with the help of the sighted, those with the misfortune to be blind could be given a path back into society.Setting up the Mu-Kuang Center:
In those early days, Dr. Chen and his wife threw all their energies into the Center. Mrs. Chen was secretary, accountant, child minder and general assistant all rolled into one, not at all the way most people imagine a "doctor's wife." Whenever he had time to spare, Dr. Chen would take his students out for rides on his motorbike or to walk about in the town. It was only later, when the Center took on more staff, that he and his wife were able to delegate some of the work and responsibilities.
Students who enter the Mu-Kuang Center do not have to pay anything in the way of instruction fees or other sundry charges. If they come from a poor family the Center also pays for all the items they need in their daily lives. One can say that the blind students who come to Mu-Kuang are free of all worries which might distract them from learning the skills the Center teaches.
The Mu-Kuang Rehabilitation Center is now located in Tungshan Rural Township, Ilan County, on a 4300 m2 site. As well as professional instructors, audio-assisted braille teaching equipment and an all-round education and training program, the Center has a library, a massage teaching room, a scented garden for the blind, and so on. These comprehensive facilities are intended to cater to all the needs of the students from their education and physical well being to their preparation for later life.
At the Mu-Kuang Center, when one presses the button on a calculator, a voice reads out the numbers; the "Sopic" textbooks have a disc attached to each page, from which one can play back the lessons; by using an ultrasonic walking aid worn like spectacles, students can detect obstacles in front of them; and even the playing cards are marked in braille, so that a game of cards among the students looks like a braille reading contest.
For the students' safety, the roads around the Center are equipped with musical traffic signals, so that when they want to cross the road, music guides them to a push button, and 18 seconds after pressing the button a different tune reminds them to cross quickly. During this time, red lights stop the traffic from both directions. All these provisions are the result of Dr. Chen's deep concern for blind people.Ready to help anyone in need:
The Mu-Kuang Center has been in existence for over 30 years, in which time more than 350 blind students have graduated and rejoined society. The funds on which the Center depends come not only from donations by people of all walks of life and a grant from the local government, but also from Dr. Chen himself, who to this day donates several million NT dollars each year to make up the shortfall in funding from other sources.
Every time Dr. Chen's birthday comes around, former students of the Center hire buses to come from central and southern Taiwan to pay their respects. On one occasion over 200 people came, filling three tour buses.
Apart from the Mu-Kuang Center's blind students and his patients, Chen Wu-fu also cares for other people in need of help.
When Chen Chiang-shan was studying at Tatung Institute of Technology, an accident during a ball game permanently robbed him of his sight. He later went to study at the Committee for the Blind of Taiwan's rehabilitation center in Hsinchuang, and after graduating, studied special education at Tsukuba University in Japan. He also studied acupuncture, and after returning from Japan opened his own practice in Taipei, which did rather well.
But he never forgot his unfinished course in electronics at the Tatung Institute, and he wished to apply to read the same subject at Japan's Sophia University; but the university put him off again and again with various polite excuses. When Chen Wu-fu, to whom Chen Chiang-shan was a complete stranger, indirectly heard of this he spontaneously stretched out a helping hand.
He not only personally accompanied Chen Chiang-shan to Japan to visit the director of the Institute of Technology at Sophia University, but also gave his guarantee that if Chen Chiang-shan should be unable to finish his studies, he would take responsibility for returning him to Taiwan. The director was moved by Chen Wu-fu's sincerity, and after an oral examination decided to accept Chen Chiang-shan. This blind student later even went on to gain a doctorate in special education from the University of Mississippi in the USA.Many contributions to medical science:
It was just this spirit of giving which caused Dr. Chen to be selected as the second recipient of the Kavalan Prize, awarded by the Yang-Shan Culture and Education Foundation, which was set up 1990. In the opinion of the prize committee, Dr. Chen has made a contribution to the people of Ilan, and is someone they can be proud of.
Apart from simply practicing medicine, Dr. Chen has made many contributions to the theory and practice of his own specialist field. He has written over 20 books and articles, and has also invented ophthalmological instruments. His article The Visibility of Haidinger's Brushes, published in 1978 in The Japanese Journal of Ophthalmology, brought letters asking for copies of the article from professors in America, France, Israel, Germany, Sweden, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere. In 1960, he invented a radio-controlled vision testing apparatus, and in 1975 an instrument for examining the macula lutea (the portion of the retina providing the most acute vision). His work has contributed to the progress of ophthalmic medicine, and he has also received many awards and citations.Albert Schweitzer--a friendship bridging generations:
A scrapbook kept by Chen Wu-fu's secretary Lin Hui-lien records many acts of generosity. For instance, the two sons and two daughters of Ilan County resident You A-huai all suffered congenital cataracts; in 1972 Chen Wu-fu treated all four children, restoring their vision, without asking for a penny in payment.
In 1971 Lin Ping-he, an orphan aboriginal child attending Heping elementary school in Hualien County, was struck in the right eye by the ball during a baseball game, and was in danger of losing the sight of that eye. Taking pity on him, Dr. Chen operated on him free of charge.
The contribution which he has made to his homeland has not only earned him the respect of local people; even the "Father of Africa" Dr. Albert Schweitzer, far away in Africa, formed a deep friendship with him which bridged the generation gap between them. Dr. Chen wrote to Dr. Schweitzer, whom he had long admired, when he was considering founding the Mu-Kuang Center. Schweitzer, already 84 at the time, was so moved by Chen's enthusiasm that he replied with a letter of encouragement three or four pages long, and later wrote to Dr. Chen twice more in German. After a correspondence over nine years, Dr. Chen was just preparing to travel to Africa to visit his friend when Albert Schweitzer passed away, to Chen's great and lasting sorrow.
Dr. Chen Wu-fu is a devout Christian, and he offers up all honor to the glory of God. But his health has not stood the test of the challenges God has placed before him. The strain of overwork has broken his health, and so this doctor who saves others' lives has himself had five operations large and small performed on him by his colleagues. Although he tried hard to keep it a secret, former students of the Mu-Kuang Center came to the hospital from all over the island and insisted on giving him massages, singing hymns and praying for him.
In 1990, Dr. Chen's doctors told him he had liver cancer.Liver cancer:
That year had been a busy one for Dr. Chen; in June he became a counselor at the Presidential Office, and took part in the National Affairs Conference. In October, Dr. Chen was attending the "Ninth Asia and Pacific Regional Conference of Rehabilitation International" in Beijing in mainland China when Taiwan University Hospital phoned him there to tell him that the tumor in his liver was malignant.
On returning to Taiwan, Dr. Chen was admitted to Taiwan University Hospital to have the tumor removed. He recovered so well after his operation that many people asked him what his secret was. But he always said there was no secret, "it's just that survival depends on confidence." Many people today don't have the strength that confidence brings, so that if faced with the prospect of death they give up without a fight, and to lose heart is fatal. "If you are faced with a situation like having a life-threatening disease, always remember that you should not blame or pity yourself or keep thinking 'Why me?' At that time the most important thing is to talk not to yourself, but to the God you believe in." He explains that people are not born as human beings by their own desire, but only by the will of God. And there is surely a purpose in the way He arranges for people to be born, to die, or to fall ill at a certain time. "When I realized that becoming ill was not my own fault, I felt much easier inside." He says he believes that "Heaven always leaves people a way out of their troubles."
In Taiwan University Hospital's cancer ward, Dr. Chen Wu-fu was the most cheerful and cooperative of patients, and the nurses often said: "He really doesn't seem like a sick person at all." But Dr. Chen knows in his heart that this is the only way to save oneself.Learning the flute at 70!
As well as dedicating his whole life to the service of others, Dr. Chen has also continuously explored his own potential .
"When my father was 70, he suddenly fell in love with the flute, and except when he was working at the clinic, you could always hear the sound of him playing. For all his wrong notes and irregular rhythms, he would keep wanting everyone to sit down and listen to the progress he was making. Mother would always reply: 'I just have something I must go and do . . . . ' But five years of hard study finally paid off, and a duet he recently played with his granddaughter actually drew quite a round of applause, and even some cries of 'encore'!" Chen Wu-fu's daughter Chen Chao-li wrote in an essay.
Dr. Chen felt that apart from doctoring from morning till night, he should have the ability to do something else, so he decided to practice the flute with its complex fingering, for "it helps develop one's mental capacity." Dr. Chen says humorously that human beings have around 50 billion brain cells, but most people only use a fifth or a quarter of them throughout their lives; the rest are left completely unused, which is a real pity.
Chen Wu-fu maintains iron self-discipline and has helped and saved countless people, but in his daily life his children describe him as having "the personality of a coddled child."
Chen Chao-li observes: "Every time before he goes out, Mother has to straighten his collar, inspect whether his buttons are done up, tidy his hair and put some money in his wallet. Often he has gone out with an umbrella but come home soaking wet, and at night he won't go to sleep until Mother massages his hands for him and tucks him up under his quilt. To this day, he never knows which drawer his clean clothes are in. He can't remember telephone numbers which he uses all the time, but he tries to defend himself by saying: 'I've more important things to be filling my brain with.'"
His humor and optimism and his unworried, unfearing attitude have brought Dr. Chen Wu-fu to the ripe old age of 75, and although visited by serious illness, he still grasps every opportunity to improve the value of life. To "respect life" has always been his guiding principle, and he not only respects other people's life but also respects his own. When asked whether he has fulfilled his goal in life, he replies frankly that it can never be fulfilled, for he hopes to bring light into the darkness for all visually handicapped people. If he could do this, then blind people would become a great resource for society rather than a burden as they are regarded by most people.
Evidently Dr. Chen Wu-fu's ideal is not one which can be realized in his own lifetime, or even one which could be accomplished by ten or a hundred Chen Wu-fus; it is an ideal which can only be achieved if the whole of society works together. But if you ask Dr. Chen, who has dedicated his whole life to training and treating the blind, whether this makes him regretful, he replies relaxedly: "Not at all!" If someone has put in their best effort, then if their dream has not been achieved, surely this is something for society to regret, and not the individual!
A woodcut portrait of Chen Wu-fu (courtesy of Chen Yi-jen)
The correspondence between Albert Schweizer and Chen Wu-fu established a friendship which bridged the age gap and distance between them. (photo courtesy of Dr. Chen Wu-fu)
Before the God in which he trusts, Dr. Chen Wu-fu sees himself as a very ordinary person, and believes that his fate is planned and arranged by God.
Dr. Chen Wu-fu has spent his whole life working for education for the blind, and establishing the Mu-Kuang Center has been his greatest achievement. This picture shows a classroom at the Center.
Dr. Chen constantly reminds people to respect life and to be grateful for every meal we receive.
The many prizes Chen Wu-fu has been awarded during his lifetime are a powerful testimony to his service to society. Here Dr. Chen is shown receiving the second Kavalan Prize, presented to him this year.
At 70 Dr. Chen took up the flute, in order to "develop life's potential."
Without vision, blind people's other senses such as touch and smell become especially sensitive, and with training they can distinguish flower species just by their scent.
To help blind people lead a normal life--including recreation as wellas food, clothing and a place to live--the Mu-Kuang Center has designed a chess set with round holes for the pieces to fit in.
Blind people are less able to compete in society, and many learn massage as a way of earning a living. The picture shows a massage class at the Mu-Kuang Center.
In the darkness, the soul is a person's real eyes. This picture shows Chen Wu-fu treating a patient in his early years as a doctor. (photo courtesy of Dr. Chen Wu-fu)