Kang Cheng

Name in Chinese
Name in Wade-Giles
K'ang Ch'eng
Related People

Biography in English

K'ang Ch'eng (1873-1930), known as Ida Kahn, was a prominent physician who introduced modern medical practices and facilities to Xanchang, where she worked from 1903 until her death in 1930. A devout Methodist, she was a strong advocate of religious education and social welfare programs.

The birth of Ida Kahn, the sixth girl in a Kiukiang, Kiangsi, family of very limited means, was a disappointment to her parents, for they had hoped for a son. Accordingly, when Gertrude Howe of the Methodist Mission at Kiukiang offered to relieve the K'ang family of some financial burdens by adopting the infant, they accepted her offer.

A few years later, Ida Kahn began her education at the Rulison-Fish Memorial School at Kiukiang, which had been founded by Miss Howe. Mary Stone Shih Mei-yü, q.v.), who became her close friend and associate, also attended this school. At the age of 9, Ida Kahn accompanied Miss Howe on a trip to the United States, where she attended a home-mission school for Chinese children in San Francisco. After a brief stay in Japan and another change of school, they returned to China in 1 884 and spent two years in Chungking, where Miss Howe worked to develop a new Methodist mission center. ^Vhen they returned to Kiukiang in 1886, Ida Kahn resumed her formal education.

In 1892 Miss Howe took Ida Kahn and Mary Stone to the United States. Both girls had decided to study medicine, and they had been accepted as students by the University of Michigan Medical School. After graduation in the spring of 1896, they spent two months observing medical techniques and hospital procedures in Chicago; they returned to China in the autumn to serve as medical missionaries under the sponsorship of the Women's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Soon after their arrival in Kiukiang, Dr. Kahn and Dr. Stone won the confidence of the local residents and persuaded them to accept modern medical treatment. In their first ten months of practice, they treated more than two thousand patients at their one-room dispensary. In 1898 Dr. Isaac Newton Danforth, a Chicago physician who had befriended Dr. Stone, provided funds for the construction of a hospital. At the time of the Boxer Uprising of 1900, the two doctors were forced to abandon the newly completed building and seek refuge in Japan. They returned to Kiukiang in 1901 and formally opened the Elizabeth Skelton Danforth Hospital on 7 December.

In 1903 Ida Kahn left Kiukiang and went to Nanchang to establish a modern medical program. By the end of 1905, a new dispensary building had been completed and a site for a new hospital had been acquired Medical facilities and services increased ste^fcly. More than 8,000 patients had received treatment by the end of 1907. Despite these claims on her attention and energies, Dr. Kahn found time to develop evangelical and social reform programs and to plead for improved education in China; in 1905 she addressed the fifth triennial meeting of the Educational Association of China in Shanghai on the subject of medical education. In 1908 Ida Kahn went to the United States on leave and enrolled at Northwestern University to study literature. She completed three years of work in two years. In the spring of 1910, she went to Berlin as a delegate to a world conference of the Young Women's Christian Association. After the conference, she went to London for six months to study tropical diseases. While in London, she completed her coursework at Northwestern by correspondence and received a B.A. degree in January 1911. The following month, she returned to Nanchang. By the time of the Wuchang revolt in October 1911, a new 40-bed hospital had been completed and put into service at Nanchang. The hospital remained open throughout the revolution and gave treatment to all who required it. The hospital was constantly -in debt because many patients were treated free of charge. Dr. Kahn accepted a lucrative position in Tientsin so that she could pay the hospital's creditors. Within three years, she had discharged the debt and returned to Nanchang. When she resumed work, the Kiangsi provincial government made two financial grants to the hospital as an indication of its esteem for her and its appreciation of her contributions to the life of the province. Later, it gave periodic subsidies to ensure the hospital's continuing operation.

In 1926 the Nanchang hospital gave extensive aid to casualties of the Northern Expedition only to be repaid with valueless notes. Dr. Kahn, who was in poor health, sold her personal belongings to help the hospital meet its financial obligations. She then went to Shanghai, where she died a short time later. Throughout her career, Ida Kahn was a strong advocate of religious education, social welfare programs, and modern medical training in China. In pursuit of these ends, she wrote articles for such publications as the Atlantic Monthly, Asia, and the China Press. All of her activities reflected her deep personal concern for the physical, social, and spiritual well-being of all Chinese people.

Biography in Chinese













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