Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong have arrested two men they say abused and severely injured a 13-year-old boy who worked as an apprentice at their car repair shop by inflating him with a high-pressure air hose.
While official media reports said his injuries weren't life-threatening, Du Chuanwang has been transferred to Beijing hospital for specialist treatment after he suffered "appalling injuries" from the abuse, according to a charity that is helping him.
According to Xu Man, of the children's charity Angel Mothers, Du is now being treated at the prestigious Bayi military hospital in Beijing.
Xu said a full medical report wouldn't be available for another three or four days.
"The hospital staff were quite worried about infection in the child's internal organs, because it would be very dangerous if that happened," Xu told RFA's Cantonese service.
"In order to keep this under control more easily, he was taken to the Beijing Bayi Children's Hospital at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening," she said.
Xu said Du had already received emergency care and surgery on his intestines, which were inflated in the attack.
Du Chuanwang was pushed to the ground by two maintenance workers, who then inserted a high-pressure hose into his rectum, in a June 30 attack that was first reported by the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily newspaper.
Releasing compressed air into his body caused the boy's belly to bulge like a balloon, the paper said, and Du remained in a coma for eight days following emergency surgery that lasted six hours.
Shi Chuanbin, a spokesman for the local police bureau, told the Communist Party-backed Global Times newspaper that the two men had now been arrested.
"They claimed they were just playing a joke on the boy," the paper quoted Shi as saying.
The paper said Du's condition was now stable, but that bacterial infection had set in in some organs, and he may later need plastic surgery to mend a broken nose.
Du dropped out of school and went to work to support his seven-year-old younger brother after the death of his mother in 2006, reports said.
However, the case has caused a public outcry, and charitable donations have been pouring in.
Xu said that the Angel Mothers had raised at least 390,000 yuan (U.S. $61,000) for the boy since Wednesday afternoon.
Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.