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January 12, 2014

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Parents in cornea donation anguish

THE parents of a little girl who died in hospital were unable to donate her corneas and bring sight to others — because the local Red Cross didn’t answer its phone.

He Qiu and his wife Yang  Xue from the central Hunan Province were working in Zhaoqing City in the southern Guangdong Province when their daughter He Xiaoxuan, who was almost two years old, died in a hospital last month in Sihui City, Guangzhou Daily reported.

The little girl was pronounced brain dead on December 9 after showing symptoms of fever. She was kept alive on a ventilator.

Her grief-stricken parents decided to donate their daughter’s organs so that their loss could still help others.

But as the cause of death was still to be confirmed, doctors advised the couple only to donate their daughter’s corneas.

The life support machine was switched off at 2am on December 16, and the father immediately asked Sihui People’s Hospital to contact the Red Cross of Guangdong Province and Guangzhou Zhongshan Hospital, which were to accept the donation.

However, the Sihui City hospital said nobody from the Red Cross picked up the phone and nobody could be reached to pick the corneas.

At 8am, the parents were told that the corneas were no longer suitable for a transplant as too long had passed.

As a symbolic act, the couple decided to sue the Red Cross at both provincial, city and district levels and the two hospitals for the sum of 1 yuan (16 US cents) for mental anguish.

They also required the Red Cross to publicize its hotline number, working procedures and provide guidance to the public on donating.

A Red Cross staff member told Guangzhou Daily that poor communications between the related organizations and hospitals was to blame for what happened.



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