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Subject: 6-Year-Old American Boy Alone in Hong Kong Hospital After Father Dies of SARS

Salt Lake City
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Date Posted: April 10, 2003 8:36:35 EDT

The 6-year-old boy left alone in a Hong Kong hospital when his father died of a new respiratory virus is being looked after by church friends, a family member said Thursday.

Mickey Salisbury was taken across the border of mainland China to a Hong Kong hospital Wednesday along with his father who was being treated for severe acute respiratory syndrome.

James Salisbury, 52, was dead on arrival at the hospital, Hong Kong's health secretary said. A family member said he died of a heart attack, but was seriously ill from SARS, the flu-like illness that has swept through some parts of China.

Mickey is not believed to have SARS, but he is being closely watched at North District Hospital in Hong Kong, said his half-sister, Michelle Salisbury. The boy's lungs are clear and the family believes he has the flu, not SARS, she said.

She added that Mickey spoke to his mother by phone on Wednesday and was doing well.

"We hope to send his mother out there to get him as soon as it is safe," she said. "We want to make sure Mickey doesn't pass anything on while he's traveling."

In the meantime, she said, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in China are checking on him.

"They have been a wonderful ... guardian for him." The church has provided translators, assistance communicating with doctors and a steady rotation of visitors, Salisbury said.

A family friend, David Westbrook, also was with Mickey and his father when they were taken to Hong Kong.

James Salisbury moved to Shenzhen, China, with Mickey about a year ago to teach English at a polytechnic school. His wife and 5-year-old triplet daughters stayed home in Orem, but had considered joining him in Shenzhen. He also had four children from a previous marriage.

James Salisbury worked as an adjunct professor at Utah Valley State College, and had traveled and lived in China for the last 16 years. "He has always loved China," said Michelle, his oldest daughter.

She said the boy's mother is not sure when she will travel, but it's most important that both of them remain safe from SARS.

"They will take every precaution they can," she said. "The worst part would be for her to get (SARS) and leave four children behind. We want to make sure those kids have a parent."

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