Feature Story | 7-Mar-2024

Bridging east to west: United for women's wellness on IWD 2024

Interviewing Wang Leilei, the first blind model in China, and Viktoriya Tsay, head of the department of prenatal and Neonatal Medicine at Genscreen, BGI Genomics' JV laboratory in Uzbekistan

BGI Genomics

On the occasion of International Women's Day (IWD), BGI Genomics interview Wang Leilei, a trailblazing blind model, and Viktoriya Tsay, an Uzbek advocate of women’s health. Their stories stich a cross-cultural narrative of nurturing the nuance of women’s wellness worldwide.

Wang was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) at the age of 10, experiencing night blindness symptoms at seven and ultimately losing her sight in 2006. Undeterred by her blindness, she went on to open a model agency and founded the Hualei Disability Service Center, where she uplifts girls affected by the disease, believing in their potential for a fulfilling life, just as she has achieved.

Viktoriya Tsay, the head of the Department of Prenatal and Neonatal Medicine at Genscreen, BGI Genomics' JV laboratory, is dedicated to advancing biological science to improve the prenatal testing experience for all mothers-to-be.

In the interview, they share valuable insights and best practices for enhancing women's health and building a stronger female health community.

Wang Leilei: Inclusion is beyond gender equality

Wang, a mother of two and the first blind model in China, has overcome challenges due to being diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) at the age of 10, a rare disease affects 1 in 5000 individuals worldwide. Her journey with RP led to night blindness, light phobia, reduced vision, and finally, complete blindness, with no specific treatment available. Despite this, Leilei continued to pursue her passion for modeling, using her feet to measure the stage during rehearsals as her eyesight deteriorated.

In addition to her modeling career, Wang is also the founder of Hualei Disability Service Center. In May 2020, she connected with communities of children with Down syndrome and autism, discovering their love for art and the stage. This sparked a deep personal connection for Wang. She began providing modeling training to help these children improve their physical functions, develop self-confidence, and build social awareness. Together with her husband, she established a public welfare class for children with disabilities, offering courses in body and model performance, language expression, and creative art to help them access the world of the arts.

Wang emphasizes the importance of inclusivity and support for those in need, stating that "Inclusion is not just about men paying attention to women. It's about the capability of taking care of those in need, including the elderly and disabled. When we support each other, the ripple effect can transform lives, communities, and ultimately, the world." Her work reflects a deep commitment to empowering and uplifting individuals with disabilities. Her advocacy is creating a positive impact on communities and beyond.

Worried about her children possibly carrying the RP gene, Wang underwent prenatal screening during her second pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy baby. This success is attributed to the advancements in precision medicine and the diligent work of experts in the field.

Viktoriya Tsay: Empowerment Through Education in Women's Health Concerns

"International Women's Day is an extraordinary occasion in Uzbekistan, where every girl receives a stunning bouquet," said Viktoriya. Apart from the flowers, she also looks forward to enhancing maternal health awareness. As an obstetrics specialist, she encountered numerous expectant mothers dismayed by the lack of understanding about prenatal and premarital health checks in Uzbekistan, despite rapid advances in public healthcare.

Viktoriya noticed that many women were apprehensive about going out and doing other activities to avoid danger to their babies. Some even refused to do prenatal tests, fearing abdominal amniocentesis could harm the unborn. She passionately advocates for non-invasive prenatal tests and strives to provide women with more options for prenatal care. Seeing the relief on her visitors' faces and witnessing their understanding of better healthcare practices brings her immense joy. "I am dedicated to empowering healthcare professionals with cutting-edge genetic solutions and advocating for inclusion in early disease detection, ensuring a healthier start for every newborn. Together, we can elevate women's power and expertise in shaping a more inclusive and equitable healthcare landscape," she stated.

Through the inspiring journeys of Wang and Viktoriya, BGI Genomics exemplifies the profound commitment needed to elevate women's health and foster an inclusive community. Their pioneering work not only advances healthcare but also paves the way for future generations of women. With precision medicine and unwavering support, we are dedicated to empowering women's health and well-being, ensuring a healthier future for all.

About BGI Genomics

BGI Genomics, headquartered in Shenzhen China, is the world's leading integrated solutions provider of precision medicine. Our services cover over 100 countries and regions, involving more than 2,300 medical institutions. In July 2017, as a subsidiary of BGI Group, BGI Genomics (300676.SZ) was officially listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

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