Trans­plant pa­tient has made it his mis­sion to pro­mote or­gan do­na­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA -

Most am­a­teur cy­clists ride for en­joy­ment, but Wang Zheng­wei also aims to save lives.

In early June, Wang, 45, spent 16 days rid­ing 1,500 kilo­me­ters from North­west China’s Gansu prov­ince to Bei­jing be­fore com­pet­ing with other or­gan trans­plant pa­tients at the China Trans­plant Games.

His sports­wear and the flags tied to his bike bore huge lo­gos pro­mot­ing or­gan do­na­tion, to draw at­ten­tion to the cause that has saved thou­sands of lives — in­clud­ing his own.

Di­ag­nosed with liver can­cer in 2008, Wang re­ceived a trans­plant af­ter wait­ing in hos­pi­tal for three months.

“That was a very dif­fi­cult time,” re­called Wang, who sold his home and fell heav­ily into debt fi­nanc­ing the 500,000-yuan ($73,000) op­er­a­tion.

Six months later, he went back to work, but he has been on med­i­ca­tion ever since. Doctors rec­om­mended phys­i­cal ex­er­cise to stay healthy, so he tried climb­ing, jog­ging and other sports be­fore fall­ing in love with cy­cling.

“It’s not only good for the body, but en­ables me to visit dif­fer­ent places and meet more peo­ple,” he said.

Start­ing with short rides on streets or at parks near his home, Wang be­gan chal­leng­ing him­self to ride fur­ther and faster.

In the past seven years, he has trav­eled 40,000 km. His long­est trip, which took place in Qing­hai prov­ince last year, lasted 20 days.

At first, Wang loved shar­ing his story on his trav­els, but he soon re­al­ized that few peo­ple knew about or­gan trans­plants and do­na­tions.

“Rais­ing public aware­ness is a mean­ing­ful thing to do,” he said.

China banned trans­plants of or­gans from ex­e­cuted pris­on­ers in Jan­uary 2015, so vol­un­tary do­na­tions have been the only source of or­gans since then.

While the num­ber of peo­ple sign­ing up to be or­gan donors is grow­ing fast, it is still far from enough. About 300,000 Chi­nese are on the wait­ing lists for trans­plants, but only about 10,000 re­ceive op­er­a­tions each year.

Dur­ing his jour­ney in June, Wang of­ten stopped to talk and hand out fliers about or­gan do­na­tion.

Not ev­ery­one ap­proved. Some sus­pected he was in­volved in or­gan traf­fick­ing, while many se­nior cit­i­zens still be­lieve in the Chi­nese tra­di­tion of bury­ing the dead in­tact.

It is a ques­tion of per­sonal ethics whether some­one wants to do­nate their or­gans af­ter death, said Liu Yuan, or­gan do­na­tion co­or­di­na­tor at Bei­jing You’an Hos­pi­tal.

To Wang’s sur­prise, some pa­tients crit­i­cized him for “rid­ing sim­ply to make a name for him­self ”, af­ter he be­gan crowd­fund­ing on­line to sup­port his jour­ney.

How­ever, Wang’s fam­ily and friends sup­port him and say they are proud that he chooses

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