Shanghai Med Student Poisoned, Roommate Arrested

By Howard Feng
Howard Feng
Howard Feng
April 19, 2013 Updated: April 20, 2013

Huang Yang had a dream: He wanted to transform Chinese hospitals into safe havens for healing the sick, and wanted doctors to be like white-clad angels close to God, so he confided on his Weibo account. But this idealistic young man’s dream died with him on April 16, at only 27 years old, the victim of a baffling poisoning.

A well-liked graduate student at Shanghai’s Fudan University, Huang died in hospital about two weeks after drinking some “funny tasting” water from the dormitory dispenser. He cleaned the machine so his roommates wouldn’t have to drink the bad-tasting water.

Suspecting foul play, the police investigating his illness later tested the dispenser, and found traces of a highly toxic chemical, N-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, generally used in medical research .

Fudan University posted a statement on its Weibo account on April 15, saying that a student from the medical school had been admitted to hospital and was in critical condition. The statement went on to say that one of his roommates was taken into custody on April 12, and the police are still investigating the case.

Other students only became aware of the incident after the arrest of the roommate, Lin Senhao. A source familiar with the matter told Xinmin Evening News that Huang, a graduate student of Fudan University’s medical class of 2010, had recently been admitted to the school’s PhD program. 

Huang came from a poor family, and both his parents had to retire early after being laid off from their jobs, Sichuan News reported. He went home to visit only once a year, at Chinese New Year, because of the family’s financial difficulties. 

Huang’s father visited his son at the hospital on April 15, according to Xinmin Evening News. “They told me he got along very well with his teachers and classmates at school,” he said, unable to believe what had happened. “The doctor told me his liver was damaged and he was receiving emergency medical care.”

There is no official report as to why Lin might want to poison Huang Yang. A reporter with the 21st Century Business Herald learned from a classmate who was part of the investigation that Lin has confessed to the poisoning, and police are still verifying the intent. 

Several messages posted on Weibo, China’s most popular microblog, provided an alternative explanation, suggesting that Huang was not the intended victim, and Lin wanted to kill another roommate. Learning that Huang had been poisoned instead, Lin supposedly felt guilty and sent him a mysterious text message about the drug, which led to his arrest.

Translation by Baiho Luo. Written in English by Carol Wickenkamp.

Read the original Chinese article.

Howard Feng
Howard Feng