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Five saved after mother donates son's organs

(Xinhua)

16:58, May 24, 2012

GUANGZHOU, May 24 (Xinhua) -- A mother who donated her braindead son's organs to save five strangers has won the respect of millions of Internet users for her selflessness.

Yuan Dezhen, a 40-year-old migrant worker and mother from Shenzhen, has lived in the city's northern Longgang district with her family of five since 2006.

Yuan's husband and her youngest son, 11-year-old Tian Gan, were severely injured in a car accident on Jan. 6 this year. Her husband died in February and her son was declared braindead not long after, relying on a respirator and medication to sustain his life.

Yuan selected to take her son off life support and donate his organs on May 9, just four days before Mother's Day.

Her son's body was transferred to the provincial capital of Guangzhou, where his liver, pancreas and small intestine were given to a 53-year-old diabetic and liver cancer patient surnamed Zhang.

Tian's kidneys were given to two female patients aged 38 and 68, respectively, while the boy's corneas brought sight to another two patients.

"Previously, life was a gamble for me. I did not expect the surgery to be such a success. There are no words for me to express my gratitude and respect for Yuan," Zhang said.

The mother's donation also touched the hearts of millions of Chinese netizens.

"Your selflessness has saved more sufferers. Your son is an angel. May he find peace in heaven," said a netizen using the screenname "3 sheshidu" on Tencent, a popular Chinese microblogging site.

"In spite of her grief, this mother donated her son's organs to save others. She showed us the greatness of maternity," said "haijiaotianya".

Yuan said it pained her greatly to see her son on the respirator. She slept just two or three hours a day while he was in the hospital, praying for a miracle and hoping that he might wake up.

"But after four months passed, I had to face his fate," she said. "I felt that if his organs could save just one person, his life could be extended."

"It is impossible to imagine how hard it would be for a mother to make such a decision," said Gao Min, an organ donation coordinator with the Shenzhen Red Cross Society.

After the transplant operations were conducted in Guangzhou, Tian's body was sent back to Shenzhen. Yuan chose to donate his body as well, giving it to the Medical School of Shenzhen University for educational and research purposes.

"Yuan's decision to donate her son's organs is worth our respect," said He Xiaoshun, vice president of the No. 1 Hospital affiliated with Sun Yat-sen University. He was in charge of the transplant operations.

He said the number of organ donations in China rarely meets the demand for organs.

"Of the 9 million people who die in China every year, potential donors account for more than 30 percent. However, organ donations take place less than 100 times a year," He said.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that 1.5 million patients are in dire need of organ transplants each year, while only 10,000 end up receiving them.

A 45-year-old woman surnamed Chen has been anxiously waiting for a donated liver for her husband at He's hospital.

"It is torturous to be on the waiting list. Three livers that were previously donated were not a match for my husband," she said.

Chen said she was moved by Yuan's story, adding that she hopes there will be more people like her.

He Xiaoshun said the Red Cross Society of China established an organ donation and distribution system in over 160 hospitals across the country in 2011 in order to ensure that donated organs are fairly distributed.

"The five recipients of Tian Gan's organs were selected through the system based on their blood type, weight, height and other factors. The whole process is open and transparent," he said.

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