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Let us rest in peace

(Global Times)

08:15, October 23, 2012

Medical students from Shenzhen University stand in silent salute to the body donators before taking an anatomy class on September 12. Photo: CFP

Wang Wenquan, a disabled person from Cangzhou, Hebei Province, told his wife he wanted to donate his body after he died, but his wife Dai put her foot down. She even threatened to leave him if he insisted.

"At the beginning, I thought it was unacceptable to let doctors get their hands on your body after you died. I was horrified to even think about it," Dai told the Global Times.

However, after her husband died of a heart attack on Christmas Eve 2009, Dai changed her mind. In 2010, she then became a volunteer for the body donation cause.

"I took over my husband's job of helping the disabled and serving the sick in Zhanghua Green Homeland after he died. Many of them decided to donate their bodies. They said they wanted to help people. If they were not afraid of it, why should I be scared?" she explained.

Zhanghua Green Homeland, an association dedicated to helping disabled and severely ill people communicate and care for each other in Cangzhou, Hebei Province, has aroused huge public attention after it was revealed its members often donated their bodies, damning social prejudice.

"Life must be cherished. Even though we are ordinary people, we would like to help maintain the value of life with our great efforts. Donating bodies was a deliberate choice for us after we carefully considered what life is. By doing this, we can make some contribution to medical science," Wen Ge, 54, head of the association, told the Global Times.

Out of its 70 members, 22 have consented to donating their bodies, giving Zhanghua Green Homeland the largest number of donators among current Chinese social organizations.

China has been seeking ways to help body donators in a bid to encourage more volunteers to participate. Cities including Beijing and Shanghai have all set up memorial gardens for body donators in recent years.

As in Cangzhou, body donating has failed to take off even in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Since the 1980s, around 50,000 volunteers have registered to donate their bodies nationwide, but not all of these saw their bodies go to medical research they passed away.

"We failed to accept many donators, as their relatives did not inform us after the person died," Yu Enhua, vice chairman of the Chinese Society for Anatomical Sciences told Beijing Times.

There is no legal ground to forcefully seize the bodies of those who agree to donate them, Yu said.

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