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Band thanks organ donor who changed their lives

Updated: 2020-11-16

WANG XIAOYU in Hangzhou and TAN YINGZI in Chongqing

Band thanks organ donor who changed their lives

The Band for One, made up of five people who received donated organs from an Australian teacher who died in Chongqing, performs in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Nov 7. [SU DAN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Former truck driver Chen Xianjun strummed a final chord on the guitar as he and his four bandmates-a real estate salesperson, a farmer and two doctors-basked in the sunshine of early winter by West Lake in Zhejiang province.

"Cherish your right to own life," Chen sang in his song's last line. Behind him, the photo of a foreigner wearing a giant smile while hugging his guitar was projected on the screen, capturing onlookers.

It was the 27-year-old man in the picture, Philip Hancock, an Australian who taught English in Chongqing, who made the scene of warmth and vigor come true.

Hancock died in May 2018 in Chongqing from complications of diabetes. His parents, who flew from Sydney to Chongqing to bid farewell to their son, had been aware of Hancock's wish to donate his organs after death.

With the help of the Red Cross Society of China's Chongqing branch, they signed the donation pledge.

Hancock's liver and kidneys saved the lives of three people in the band and his corneas restored the eyesight of the other two, including Chen.

"Last year, Red Cross officials got in touch with us, proposing that the five of us form a band in memory of Hancock," Chen said. "They told me that Hancock's parents mentioned during an earlier memorial service that he loved music and dreamed of having his own band one day."

Chen said he was on board instantly, and so were the rest of the recipients of Hancock's posthumous gifts.

"I am more than fortunate to be able to regain my eyesight, and to be able to pay tribute to the man who gave me a second chance at a full life and maybe bring some comfort to his parents-such an opportunity is beyond my dreams," he said.

In the past year, the five aspiring musicians learned their assigned instruments from scratch and kept practicing at home. They traveled from different parts of Chongqing and neighboring Sichuan province several times to meet in a Chongqing studio for lessons and group rehearsals.

Mo Li, a 36-year-old property salesperson who received one of Hancock's kidneys due to severe uremia, said she thought she had no musical talent until she began shaking the maracas to the beat.

"Picking up a new instrument is certainly difficult at my age, but we have a clear goal in mind and are determined to achieve it," she said. "I think Philip not only gave me a renewed life, but also some 'musical cells' that enable me to appreciate beautiful melodies."

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