Many children dream of being superheroes and saving those in need of help. Eleven-year-old Liang Yaoyi from South China's Guangdong Province was actually able to make an incredible difference and be a hero for others. He had been fighting brain cancer since he was 9, and surgeries and treatments were not able to eliminate the tumor.
As he neared the end, he revealed to his mother that he wanted her to donate his organs so that he could save the lives of other children. It was likely that he had read about tissue donation at school, through one story about bone marrow donations to treat leukemia and another titled, ”Immortal Eyes.”
“I have seen many people doing good deeds and I think they are great. I want to be a great child too,” he reportedly told his mother.
Liang passed away on June 6, and doctors were able to harvest his liver and kidneys that were successfully transplanted into others who needed them. The medical staff with Liang at the end were very touched by his bravery and selflessness, and someone snapped a photo of them bowing three times to show their utmost respect for him.
Liang most certainly died a hero and will continue to live on through the organs he was able to donate.
While scientists are making incredible advancements in the development of replacement organs made from stem cells, synthetic blood for transfusion, and leukemia treatment, those products are not yet to the point where they have replaced the need for human organ, blood, and bone marrow donors.
How high is the need?
Blood: Someone needs blood every two seconds in the United States, and 41,000 donations are needed each day to meet this demand. Over 30 million blood components are used each year for a variety of reasons, including those undergoing chemotherapy, those with diseases like sickle cell disease, and those who have suffered trauma, like a car accident.
Bone marrow: Around 49 bone marrow transplants are performed each day in the US, though that isn’t quite enough to meet demand. Six people die each hour from blood cancer, and someone else is diagnosed every four minutes.
Organs: Over 100,000 people are currently on the wait list to receive a donated organ in the United States. Eighteen people die every day while they wait in vain for the life-saving phone call that never comes. Another name is added to the list every ten minutes.
Ready to be a hero? The following list will help you find where you can get registered to be a donor, based on your location. It is important to get registered and make your family aware of your intentions. Do not simply put the request in your will, as wills are not read until weeks after the funeral when it is far too late.
Even if you have health issues that bar you from donating blood or organs, you can still support the effort by recruiting those who are healthy enough to donate and volunteering your time.
Bone Marrow and Cord Blood: Be The Match
SPECIAL NOTE: August 1-7 is National Minority Donor Awareness week! 57% of those on the organ wait list are minorities, though those groups also have the lowest rates of consent for donation. Organ donation is colorblind (but bone marrow is not), so please get signed up!
Blood: Canadian Blood Services
Stem Cell and Bone Marrow: One Match
Blood: NHS Blood and Transplant
Organ: NHS Organ Donation
Blood: Australian Red Cross
Organ and Tissue: Australian Organ Donor Register
Bone Marrow and Cord Blood: Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry
Don’t see your location? Do a web search for services available in your area, or contact a local hospital to learn how you can save lives in your community.