Wang Yan has been in a coma since April 21 when she was hit on the head with a spade.
According to police and relatives, the girl had been walking with her mother in Zhangli village, Anhui province, when a man suddenly attacked them. Her 47-year-old mother was hit in the head with the spade before Wang threw herself in the way, resulting in her injuries.
Zhangli police detained a suspect identified as Shi Chao on the day of the attack, but said the case is still under investigation. Shi is suspected of having a mental illness, they said.
"My sister suffered respiratory failure two hours after the tragedy and could only be taken off the ventilator 10 days later," said Wang's 22-year-old brother Wang Yongma, who added that he spent his entire savings — 70,000 yuan ($11,000) — to pay for the first 45 days of treatment.
The girl was originally admitted to Huainan Xinhua Hospital in Anhui, but medics there said they were unable to cope, so she was transferred to Shanghai Blue Cross Brain Hospital on June 3.
Surgeons operated on Wang Yan on June 13 to reduce a build up of water on the brain.
"Her vital signs are stable, but the condition is far from substantially improved," Zhou Kexiang, the attending physician, said on Friday. "She has just been transferred from intensive care to an ordinary ward, and her physiological responses indicate signs of recovery, but we can't say she is out of danger yet."
Although in a coma, the patient is responding to sounds and pain, he said.
Zhou said the top priority is for Wang Yan to regain consciousness.
"We're trying to wake her and aid the recovery of her brain functions with drugs. A lasting coma may lead to deterioration or complications in other body systems," he said.
Wang Yongma and his 62-year-old father have stayed at the girl's bedside every day. However, their biggest concern is paying for further treatment.
The father underwent surgery for advanced esophageal cancer last year, which had already put the family in debt. The brother did not finish junior high school and been doing odd jobs since he was 17 years old.
To continue paying for her treatment, the family said it has raised 8,000 yuan by selling everything at home.
After media reports on the girl's bravery, scores of Shanghai residents have visited her and made donations. A middle-aged woman dropped in on Friday afternoon and left 1,000 yuan without revealing her name, the brother said.
"We're really grateful to these kind-hearted people, but the doctors have told us we might need 300,000 yuan for future treatment," he said. "I don't want to beg, but I do hope my sister can survive."