WATCH ABOVE: How one family helped save six lives by saying yes to organ donation. Crystal Goomansingh reports.
TORONTO – Her kidneys gave a second chance to a man and a young girl, while her pancreas saved a woman living with diabetes. Her liver lobe helped a little boy, her liver saved a man with extensive damage to his own organ. Finally, her heart is beating inside of a man.
Hua Ding, a mother and wife, died at 34 years old. But her organs saved six people who were terminally ill.
“We just love her so much, we didn’t want to let her go,” her husband, Yiqi Wang, told Global News.
“But we can envision parts of her body still living, like her heart still pumping in this world. Maybe it’s in someone else’s body but it’s still pumping…it’s still beating, she – or the person – is still alive,” he suggested.
This week marks National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week. While Hua saved six people, more than 1,600 Canadians are added to organ wait lists every year, some end up dying while waiting for a donor.
On Jan. 10 this year, Hua was feeling under the weather. She was nauseous, throwing up and complaining about a headache. She decided to head to bed on a quiet Saturday night at home. Yiqi asked his wife if she wanted an extra pillow – that was their last conversation.
The next morning, he woke up and realized something was very wrong. Hua had suffered a massive brain aneurysm and died in hospital 10 days later.
Yiqi knew his wife would want to help others in need, but he didn’t want to make the decision about organ donation without her parents’ consent.
Hua’s parents rushed to Toronto to be with their daughter. It was their first time in Canada, their first trip abroad. It was her father who pushed for saving as many people as Hua’s organs could. His concern was that they’d look back in regret if they didn’t do more.
“We couldn’t imagine the number of how many people she actually could help and save,” Yiqi said. It brought the family consolation while in their darkest hour.
Dr. Atul Humar, director of the multi-organ transplant program at the University Health Network, says that typically, the average number of organs procured from a deceased donor in Ontario is between three to four.
“It’s something we see all the time with organ donors and it’s an opportunity for one donor to save multiple lives,” he told Global News.
The age of the donor, cause of death, size of the organs, blood type and compatibility with recipients are all factors that are considered in matching pairs.
Humar says that organ donation plays a major role in helping families grieve.
“They’re going through a terrible time. It’s a tragic loss but this gives them some measure of comfort, and it actually helps with the grieving process,” he explained.
Wang says he met his wife in university but they didn’t fall in love until their third year of studying. They’d been inseparable for 17 years, completed master’s degrees together and raised their six-year-old daughter, Grace.
The couple took a chance and moved to Canada – Hua was studying to become a massage therapist while her husband was slated to start school at Seneca College.
He said their lives were once built like a triangle – Yiqi, Hua and their daughter Grace. But with a missing piece, Wang’s picking up the pieces, slowly but methodically.
He’s using his wife as his inspiration.
“Sometimes most people like me, myself, we are willing to help but usually upon being asked. But my wife, she was willing to help even without being asked,” Wang said.
“When she observed somebody in need, she helped them,” he said.