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Migrant farmer donates body, corneas for posthumous use after Xinjiang riot

2009-07-15 21:11 BJT

Special Report: 7.5 Xinjiang Urumqi Riots |

URUMQI, July 15 (Xinhua) -- A migrant farmer who died of lung cancer Tuesday in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi has fulfilled his will by donating his body and corneas for posthumous use.

Tang Tiangui, a native of Mianyang City in the southwestern Sichuan Province, had been a farmer in Xinjiang for 17 years when he was diagnosed with cancer in April, at the age of 41.

A divorced man whose teenage son died in a traffic accident three years ago, Tang contracted three hectares of cropland on a Xinjiang farm.

In his last days, he decided to donate his corneas to help others regain their eyesight, and his body for medical research, said his younger sister Tang Qinghui Wednesday.

"The Red Cross in Xinjiang accepted his application for body donation on June 18, but cornea donation was a problem in Xinjiang, which had no cornea bank for proper storage unless the receivers were found in advance and transplants were done immediately after death," she said.

Despite his own suffering, Tang Tiangui waited hopefully for cornea receivers. But the only potential receiver the hospital could find for him, a one-year-old boy, was unable to get a transplant because of heart disease.

It was until the end of June, and with the help of the non-governmental charity organization Lions Club in Shenzhen, that Tang's corneas were to be accepted by the Red Cross in Shenzhen and his home province of Sichuan, she said.

"My brother died at the People's Hospital in Xinjiang at 2 a.m. Tuesday, a very inconvenient hour because his corneas had to be removed within six hours but the doctor who agreed to perform the operation lived at least 20 km away," said Tang Qinghui.

In Urumqi, still overshadowed by the July 5 riot, some roads are still closed to private vehicles at night. "I feared we might eventually let my brother down, and felt guilty for it," she said.

Hesitantly, she informed the doctor Aynur Turdi, who called hospital official Murat for help. "My first reaction was I had to do whatever I could to help Tang fulfill his will. There was no time to lose," said Murat.

He sent an ambulance to pick up Dr. Turdi from her home.

By 5 a.m., Tang's corneas were taken and preserved in special chemical. They were flown to Shenzhen Tuesday night.

Yao Xiaoming, an official with Shenzhen Lions Club, said one ofthe corneas would be forwarded to Sichuan Red Cross. "Both are expected to be transplanted soon."

Tang's body, meanwhile, was donated to Xinjiang Medical University for research.

"My brother died peacefully. I'm relieved that his wish was fulfilled and he was able to light the world for others," said Tang Qinghui.

She said she would mourn her brother at an Urumqi park, and on an online memorial of Urumqi's Red Cross.

In China, a healthy adult older than 18 is allowed to register for body donation.

Health authorities in Urumqi said more than 600 residents have volunteered to donate bodies since applications began in 1997 and 80 bodies have been donated so far.

Xinjiang's first cornea transplant was done in 2007, after a graduate student donated his corneas. The regional Red Cross said Urumqi would expect its first cornea bank next year.

Editor: Zhang Ning | Source: Xinhua