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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

Tan Daobi, 53, who had spent years in darkness due to chronic keratitis until Hancock's cornea brought light back into her life, said she feared being a drag on the band.

To catch up, she worked to squeeze training in between her daily chores of farming and cooking in her countryside home and is now able to play with more confidence.

"I practiced with one hand while I was watching TV and building a fire in the wood stove," Tan said. "I do not want to be the one who lags behind, and I want to make Philip proud."

Wu Jun, the 40-year-old surgeon who received Hancock's liver, played the guitar and Chen Jingzhong, 50, the recipient of Hancock's other kidney, played the drums.

The Band for One, a fitting name for the five-member group, was scheduled for their first public performance at an organ donation memorial service in March, but their debut was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Nov 7, they finally gathered by the willow-shaded lakeside in Hangzhou to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the implementation of voluntary organ donations in China, along with hundreds of Red Cross workers, transplant recipients, family members of organ donors and volunteers.

"I was nervous before stepping on the stage, worrying that I might place my hands in the wrong positions or forgot the lyrics," guitar player Chen Xianjun said. "But I think we all played our parts to the best of our ability after so many months of preparation and tension."

Chen said all the recipients now have the ability to carry on with their lives, and that's exactly what Hancock's parents wanted for them.

Peter Hancock, the donor's father, said in an interview in October after watching a livestreamed studio performance of the Band for One, said his biggest wish is for the five to enjoy their lives more.

"What I would like for you to do now is to stay very safe and look after your body very well," he said. "And more importantly, get on with your normal lives in as far as what you were doing before the surgery and before what's happened."

Chen said he cannot return to driving a truck because his eyesight does not meet the requirements. Instead, he opened a tofu-making business and is grateful to be able to make a living by his own hands again and support his family.

According to the Red Cross Society of China, Hancock was the first foreign organ donor in Chongqing and the seventh in the country. Since China initiated voluntary post-mortem organ donations a decade ago, about 31,300 people have donated their organs after death, including 11 foreigners.

Zhou Xueyue, director of Chongqing's organ donation administrative center, said Hancock's story shows the value of signing up as an organ donor and relaying that intention to family.

"If Philip had not registered in Australia and his parents had not known about his decision, the lives of these five people could be totally different now," he said.

According to the Red Cross Society of China, the number of registered organ donors has been rising fast in recent years, recently reaching 2.51 million.

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