Two Penn Medicine students created a GoFundMe to raise money for hospitals combatting coronavirus in Hubei province, China — raising over $7,000 in three weeks.
David Mui, a second-year medical school student, and Jing Luan, a sixth-year MD-PhD student, started PENN-Up for Wuhan on Feb. 14 with the goal of raising $10,000 for frontline medical teams in Hubei province, where Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, is located. The proceeds will be directly donated to hospitals in Wuhan and smaller cities in Hubei.
Mui said he was surprised that prior to this GoFundMe, he had not seen a coordinated effort at Penn to raise money to help coronavirus relief efforts in Wuhan. The city of Wuhan has been under lockdown since Jan. 23, and doctors report shortages of medical supplies and testing kits.
“We’ve seen a lot of universities like Stanford who have already started fundraising, so we’re playing catch up,” he said.
The Stanford for Wuhan team, created by the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Stanford (ACSSS), has raised $15,521 through GoFundMe for medical supplies in Wuhan and surrounding areas.
At Penn State University, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) has also raised over $10,000 for Wuhan. In collaboration with the University Health Services, CSSA used the funds to purchase and ship 1,000 respirators to Wuhan Hanyang Hospital.
College junior Victoria Wu, who has family in Wuhan, China, said she heard about the Penn student-led fundraiser from a friend and thought it was a great effort. Wu's family in Wuhan told her that medical supplies and basic necessities there are becoming scarce and inaccessible.
“It’s so hard to get resources. My family members [in Wuhan] haven’t left their house for a month, and my uncle said that they can’t even leave their neighborhood until the end of March,” Wu said.
After the fundraiser hits its goal of $10,000, Mui said he hopes to distribute the donations directly to hospitals in China. Mui does not have a finalized list of hospitals yet, but he hopes to disperse the funds among small cities and towns around Wuhan that may not have adequate resources to combat the crisis.
Engineering sophomore Lan-Ting Chiang, an international student from Taipei, Taiwan, thinks fundraising efforts should prioritize Chinese cities that have been less affected by the disease. She said that the donations for medical supplies, such as face masks, to unaffected people may contain the spread of the virus.
“There’s not really a way to stop [coronavirus] right now, so compared to an area that’s already fallen, it might be better to get surgical masks to parts of China that are still relatively unaffected to protect those people,” she said.
Chiang feels that donations for medical supplies won’t stop the virus as efficiently as finding a cure, but the protective nature of the masks could give people a sense of consolation.
Although he understands Chiang's concerns, Mui believes the money from his fundraiser will still help alleviate suffering due to the virus. He also thinks the fundraiser has increased awareness about coronavirus and how to proactively contribute to the cause.
"I’m pretty surprised we’re able to raise so much in such a short amount of time," he said.