After being diagnosed with a rare muscle condition sometimes coined as the rag doll disease at the young age of four — Zhang Ze has been able to attend school every day for the past six years thanks to his dear friend, Xu Binyang, who is just 12-years-old.
Officially called myasthenia gravis, the incurable condition caused Zhang to lose all control of his voluntary muscles in his legs and he is unable to walk on his own.
“Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles, which are responsible for breathing and moving parts of the body, including the arms and legs. The name myasthenia gravis, which is Latin and Greek in origin, means grave, or serious, muscle weakness.” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
“The hallmark of myasthenia gravis is muscle weakness that worsens after periods of activity and improves after periods of rest. Certain muscles such as those that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, chewing, talking, and swallowing are often (but not always) involved in the disorder. The muscles that control breathing and neck and limb movements may also be affected.” the NIH continues.
Xu decided to ensure Zhang gets both to and from school everyday as well as help him from class to class at the Hebazi Town Central Primary School in the county of Quinshen.
How exactly does he do this?
Everyday, the sixth-graders go to school together with Xu carrying Zhang around on his back — piggyback style.
Xu takes Zhang everywhere he needs to go so his daily commute is a bit easier.
Xu has been doing this since the first grade.
Additionally, Xu also helps Zhang with other small tasks, such as refilling his water bottle, handing in his homework as well as going to the bathroom.
“Xu Bingyang is my best friend. Every day, he studies with me, chats with me and plays with me. [I] thank him to look after me like this every day.” Zhang shared with Sichuan Online.
According to one of the pair’s teachers, the act is very in character for Xu — who is said to be hardworking, down-to-earth and very mature.
“For so many years, [Xu] has continued doing good deeds and never complained in front of the teachers and classmates.” the teacher shared with Sichuan Online.
Xu has yet to tell his mom about what he does to help his friend at school, sharing with reporters how he is happy to be his friend’s “walking stick.”
“I weigh more than 40kg (88 pounds) and Zhang Ze only weighs about 25kg (55 pounds), so it’s okay for me to carry him. I am bigger than him. I thought if I didn’t help him, nobody else would,” Zhang shared.
And while there is no known cure yet, it is said life expectancy is relatively normal, according to the NIS.
“There is no known cure but with current therapies most cases of myasthenia gravis are not as “grave” as the name implies. Available treatments can control symptoms and often allow people to have a relatively high quality of life. Most individuals with the condition have a normal life expectancy.”
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