Love, life, and legacy — organ donation coordinators shuttle between death and life
So far, more than 6.2 million people had signed up for organ donation, noted data released on the China Organ Donation Administrative Center website.
Days prior to this year’s Qingming Festival, or Tomb-Sweeping Day, in early April, Mi Zhihui presented a bouquet at a park to commemorate organ donors in southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality.
A year had passed and Mi, an organ donation coordinator, saw many new names on the memorial wall. “None of you has ever been forgotten. Thank you for leaving behind such beautiful gifts of life,” Mi said while gently wiping dust off the wall.
Mi, 67, is a retired nurse. She began working for the Red Cross Society of China Chongqing Branch in 2012 and became one of the first full-time coordinators of organ donation in Chongqing.
Some people misunderstand Mi, claiming that she is doing a “cruel” job by persuading people to donate their organs and the intact remains of their loved ones. Others believe that Mi and her colleagues are extending the life and love of the deceased.
In 2010, China began piloting an organ donation program, and from this came the need for professional organ donation coordinators.
“To die, and to live. This is the end and also a new beginning,” said Mi, who has handled more than 600 donations over the decade.
Finding willing donors is not easy, and behind each donation lies the persistent effort of organ donation coordinators.
Mi can not recall how many times she returned home alone and tired, yet full of warmth and gratitude. She has also lost count of the heaps of times she, already overloaded, rushed to handle a new case, trying hard sometimes to hold back her tears.
Zhou Lijuan, 25, is an organ donation coordinator at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University.
“I often work in a relatively remote and less-developed ethnic minority area, and it is very difficult to carry out organ donation due to local customs. We sometimes suffer misunderstanding, rejection and even verbal abuse from the relatives,” Zhou said.
“However, whenever I think of the transplant recipients who are waiting in despair, there will be a surge of strength, responsibility and obligation in my heart,” Zhou said. “I have no reason to give up.”
With the joint efforts of many parties, China has made remarkable progress in organ donation.
According to a report on organ transplantation development in China, by the end of October 2022, China had completed 42,500 cases of deceased organ donations. So far, more than 6.2 million people had signed up for organ donation, noted data released on the China Organ Donation Administrative Center website.
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