Dr. Zhao's Grandfather, Dr. Zhao Shen (left) and Dr. Zhao's Father, Dr. Zhao Guo Dong (right).

Sixth Generation Healer

By Lorraine Ash

Dr. Zhao Weijie’s career in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) started well before her formal training. As a girl she learned acupuncture from her family, whose healing tradition extends as far back as the Ming Dynasty.

At 14, Zhao Weijie had the opportunity to use what she had learned. In July 1976 the famous Tangshan earthquake, one of the largest natural disasters of the twentieth century, struck her native Hebei Province in eastern China. The death toll exceeded a quarter million people; another 165,000 were injured.

“It was the most devastating time for me because I was full of life and had not experienced such a thing before,” Dr. Zhao recalled. “Thanks to my family, I was able to help some of my classmates and neighbors with first aid and acupressure.”

Recovery from the quake took two years, after which the young woman worked briefly in the public health sector. In 1981 she began her specialized education at Hebei College of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

In the past 30 years Dr. Zhao’s skill and healing ability have led her into the roles of clinician, educator and award-winning researcher. She ran a health clinic while extending her studies at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine to become an acupuncture professional and at the Hong Kong Institute of Asia to become an integrated medicine professional.

She won an award for innovation in healing before even graduating from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine in 1987. A year earlier, her academic thesis on the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, based on her experience with sixty patients, won grand prize at the first annual meeting of the World Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Like her family before her, Dr. Zhao has gone on to distinguish herself in TCM, winning other awards, some on the international stage, for various decoctions and other remedies for kidney, bone and respiratory ailments.

Never does she forget the mantle she carries or the stories on which she grew up. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), one of her ancestors, Zhao Bao Yu, worked as an opthalmologist at a hospital where he treated the eyes of the king’s daughter. So successful was he that the happy king presented Zhao Bao Yu with 1,000 acres of land.

Dr. Zhao’s grandfather, Dr. Zhao Shen, ran a TCM clinic.

“My grandfather told me the story of the day he was walking to the clinic and saw people carrying a coffin. He noticed blood dripping from it and asked who had died,” Dr. Zhao recalled. “A man cried out his wife had died while giving birth. My grandfather asked to see the corpse and discovered the woman was only unconscious. He opened his emergency box and got the acupuncture needles. Once he used them, the woman awoke. She slowly recovered. He saved her and her baby.”

After that incident, she said, Dr. Zhao Shen was called the “genius doctor.”

Dr. Zhao’s father, Dr. Zhao Guo Dong, was known as a “mystical therapist” who treated thousands of patients with radical kidney stones using qigong, herbs and acupuncture. His patients called him Huatuo, an ancient famous physician who lived during the Han Dynasty. Some believed Huatuo had been reborn.

In her own era, Dr. Zhao also enjoys recognition. She was invited to the First Global Congress of Women in Huairou and twice to the National Women’s Congress of China. She is included in “Scientific Chinese – Talent’s Bank of Chinese Experts” as well as “Who’s Who of Contemporary Great Figures in World Traditional Medicine.”

Certified in Traditional Chinese Medicine with the Kenya Ministry of Health, Dr. Zhao has worked as a doctor in Africa since 1999. She has stayed true to the five goals her family tradition dictates: to practice kung fu, to have moral accomplishment, to study nutrition, to excel in acupuncture, and to obtain formal education in herbs.

“Twenty-five years of clinical experience and soul accomplishment have made me a real sixth-generation successor,” Dr. Zhao said. “I sincerely thank my father and grandfather who left me with a precious treasure of knowledge that is uniquely our family heritage.”

Dr. Zhao said she finds it a privilege to cure people, some of whom had been expecting to suffer their whole lives.