Beijing (CNN)A college student who experienced malnutrition because she was too poor to afford adequate food has died in southwestern China, sparking concerns about poverty in the world's second largest economy.
A student was too poor to buy enough food. Her death has raised poverty concerns in China
Wu Huayan, 24, died at the Affiliated Hospital of Guizhou Medical University in the city of Tongren on Monday, a spokesman for the hospital confirmed to CNN, while declining to provide a reason for her death.
A third-year student at Guizhou Forerunner College, Wu was 135 centimeters tall (4.4 feet) and weighed just 21.6 kilograms (48 pounds), according to a statement by the Tongren municipal government in October. She captured national attention that month, when her story was told in Chinese media.
Both of Wu's parents had died and she was living with her younger brother, surviving on a social security program allowance of 300 yuan ($43.50) per month, according to the government statement. Her brother had a mental illness, and Wu had adopted an extremely frugal lifestyle to save money to help care for him.
The state-run Beijing Youth Daily reported that Wu regularly skipped breakfast and for other meals, only ate rice mixed with chilli that she prepared at home. The government statement said she had reportedly taken up the diet as a high school student.
According to the statement, Wu was admitted to hospital in October after her legs became swollen. A doctor said her heart valve was seriously damaged, and correctional surgery would cost over 200,000 yuan ($29,000), it added.
After her plight shocked the country, a Beijing-based charity set up a fundraising campaign for Wu, which has since raised over three times the amount needed for the surgery.
Despite the donations, Wu's health deteriorated this year before she died on Monday, according to Beijing Youth Daily.
Wu's death has sparked outrage among Chinese social media users, and many questioned why the country could not have done more to save the student.