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Prisoner released to save brother

A PRISONER has been granted parole to save the life his brother.

Ma Qichang had been waiting a year to find out if an operation to transplant a kidney from his elder brother, Ma Qizheng, could go ahead.

The brothers are now in the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Henan Province, and receiving medical checkups. If all goes well, the transplant will take place in a week.

"I am a bachelor and have nothing to worry about," said the elder Ma. "I just want to save my brother's life, as he has two children who need their father."

Ma Qizheng, 36, a native of Dengzhou City, Henan, was jailed for theft for six years in 2006 in Shayang County, Hubei Province. His 32-year-old brother was diagnosed with uremia in July 2007.

As doctors found the parents' kidneys were unsuitable for transplant, the only hope was the elder brother. Ma said he offered to donate a kidney when his father visited him in early 2008.

With the support of prison staff, doctors conducted an organ matching test in May 2008 and confirmed the elder brother was a suitable donor.

But the prison refused to release Ma, citing a 2006 Ministry of Justice document that said: "Until a regulation regarding the voluntary donation of organs from criminals is formulated" such donations should be banned.

The family had to wait until the story was widely reported in early June.

On June 7, Ma's father filled in an application for release on parole for the elder brother. On June 11, the Shayang County People's Court announced the decision to release Ma on parole, after getting approval from the Ministry of Justice.

The decision said Ma had followed prison regulations and actively participated in study and labor, which won him the release.

"I thought we would never see each other again in this life," said the younger Ma. He said he could not believe it was true when someone from the Xiongwangtai Prison told him on June 11 to prepare for the return of his elder brother.

"Now, there are no obstacles except for the operation fee," the elder brother said. The family has raised 30,000 yuan (US$4,392) so far. The usual fee is 60,000 yuan to 80,000 yuan.


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