TAIYUAN, May 25 -- Several times a day, Wang Zhihua carefully chews food before passing it open-mouthed to his three-year-old daughter, who opens her mouth wide like a baby bird.
It is not a novel parenting skill, but a method that the single father hopes can save the life of his daughter Wang Keran. She is unable to chew food and suffers vomiting due to an uncommon disease.
From Zecheng Village, Zuoquan County in north China's Shanxi Province, Wang Zhihua, 27, has persisted in the practice for over 18 months.
Pictures of Wang feeding his daughter mouth-to-mouth and media reports on his struggle to pay for the girl's medical expenses went viral on the Internet earlier this week, drawing admiration and sympathy from the public.
Last week, the girl, weighing only seven kilograms, was admitted to Shanxi Provincial Children's Hospital in Taiyuan, the provincial capital.By Sunday morning, Wang had received 170,000 yuan (about 27,000 U.S. dollars) from donators across the country.
Chen Rui, the girl's doctor, estimated that her treatment may cost between 50,000 and 60,000 yuan. "Luckily, money is not a problem now," Chen said.
"My child is the same age and I wept after reading the story. A father's love can be so great," said Li Yao, a man in his early 20s who visited the girl from neighboring Shaanxi Province. Li and his friends donated 15,000 yuan.
The girl has achalasia, a disorder of the muscle of the esophagus that results in difficulty in swallowing. In 2012, she began to vomit severely and her teeth fell out because of malnutrition. She missed out on proper treatment because her father could not afford it and her condition worsened.
Doctors are now working to improve her nutrition and planning surgery. "The treatment seems promising," said Chen, adding that the hospital handles two or three such cases a year.
"As long as there's a glimmer of hope, I won't give her up," said Wang.
The girl relies on a tube through her nose and leading to her stomach to obtain nutritional fluid, but she still wants to taste the food "processed" by her father.
To satisfy his daughter and help her eat more, Wang has continued to feed her mouth-to-mouth. But she often vomits after trying to swallow.
Wang, an ex-serviceman, makes only 20,000 yuan a year repairing railways near his village. To make it worse, his parents, in poor health, also need to spend a lot of money to buy medicine.
Earlier this year the girl became entitled to health care benefit, which is attached to hukou, or Chinese household registration.
She failed to obtain a hukou right after her birth since her parents never officially registered their marriage. Her mother left home after she fell ill in 2012.
It is unclear whether or how much of the girl's treatment costs will be covered by medical insurance. Wang promised to give unused donated funds to people in need or charities after his daughter recovers.