Australian organ donor gives five Chinese recipients a new lease of life

Family of English teacher Philip Hancock, 27, arranged for his heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and corneas to be donated after he died from complications related to his diabetes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 June, 2018, 1:59pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 June, 2018, 5:29pm

Five people in southwestern China have a brighter future after receiving organs donated by the family of a young Australian man who died last month, according to a local media report.

Philip Hancock, a 27-year-old who had worked for several years as an English teacher at Xinan University in Chongqing, died on May 9 from complications related to Type 1 diabetes, a week after falling into a coma, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Thursday, citing a WeChat post by his mother.

According to his father, Hancock had always been an advocate for organ donation, so when it became clear he was not going to pull through his parents made inquiries into how they could make his final wish come true.

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After speaking to officials from the Australian embassy and the relevant Chinese authorities, it was agreed that their son, on his death, would donate his corneas, liver, kidneys, heart and lungs.

While doctors could not find a recipient for his heart and lungs, Hancock’s other organs were transplanted the day he died, making him Chongqing’s first foreign donor – and China’s seventh.

A 30-year-old woman and a 40-year-old man were the recipients of Hancock’s kidneys. They are both now recovering in hospital after their respective operations went smoothly, the newspaper report said.

A 40-year-old man who was the recipient of Hancock’s liver is also in a stable condition and out of intensive care, while the two people who received cornea transplants have already been discharged from hospital, the report said.

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One of Hancock’s former students, Li Chin, described him as a good friend who had a passion for music.

“Philip loved heavy metal,” the newspaper quoted her as saying. “He was a guitarist and had been in bands since secondary school.”

He was also a fan of Chinese folk culture and even had a picture of himself dressed in an ancient military uniform while sitting on a horse, she said.

“I knew he had diabetes, but he was always careful about what he ate and had been travelling around the country, so I got the impression he was in good health,” Li said.

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Although China has more than 467,000 registered organ donors – according to a report published on Wednesday on the People’s Daily website – it still faces a severe shortage.

An estimated 300,000 patients require transplants every year, but only about 16,000 operations are conducted, the report said.

The country used to use organs from executed prisoners but this practice was banned in January 2015.