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February 21, 2020

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Bodies of coronavirus victims donated for research

RECENTLY, grieving families have agreed to donate the bodies of loved ones who died from the novel coronavirus for medical research in hope of benefiting those still living.

The Chinese tradition is to be buried with the body fully intact.

Zha Qiongfang, a doctor from Shanghai’s Renji Hospital dispatched to Wuhan, met with families who have made donations.

“On Saturday night, when I went off duty and handed over my work to the night shift, I told them that patients in the ward were mostly in stable condition, except for one elderly man, whose health indicators had tested poorly that afternoon,” Zha said.

Shortly thereafter, she heard the news that the man suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and died. Later, another message came: The man’s family offered his body for dissection, the first donated body of a coronavirus victim since the outbreak began.

“Currently, we mainly use clinical symptoms to deduce pathological changes in the human body triggered by the COVID-19 virus,” Zha said. “This is not based on pathological evidence. The family’s decision will be a huge leap for our understanding of novel coronavirus pneumonia.”

Zha believes the patient’s anatomy will help medical workers learn about the pathogenicity and lethality of the virus, which can provide references for saving more critical patients in the future and possibly help in developing a vaccine.

On the following day, the family of another deceased patient consented to dissection as well.

“My gratitude for these two families is beyond words and I think all people in Wuhan and in the country should thank them,” Zha said. “I’m grateful to them because although they are in pain, they still decided to make a selfless contribution.”

Experts of Wuhan’s Jinyintan Hospital have now completed dissection of two coronavirus victims’ bodies and sent collected samples for testing.


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