Thu, Jul 01, 2004 - Page 8 News List

The skin graft that taught us love

By Cheng Jim-ming 鄭貞銘

Let love be the driving force for harmony. Let us cast prejudice and hatred aside. Let us emulate David Landsborough and his son, transcending blood ties and geographic boundaries to truly cherish Taiwan.

In the spirit of altruism, Dr. David Landsborough Sr. (蘭大衛) and his Taiwan-born son, David Jr. (蘭大弼), dedicated themselves to helping Taiwan's poor and sick for 70 years. During his latest visit toTaiwan, Landsborough Jr. presided over the opening ceremony for the reconstructed Changhua Church, which he founded. Shortly after the event, Landsborough Jr. left Taiwan. But he also left behind him prayers and blessings for the people on this land. After reading the story of the Landsboroughs, I came to realize what love for Taiwan really means.

Born in Scotland in 1870, Landsborough Sr. was assigned to the Prebysterian Church's mission in Taiwan at the age of 25. One hundred and eight years ago, Landsborough Sr. founded the Changhua Christian Hospital. His deeds remain a shining example for medical practitioners, including the widely-read story A Skin Graft Given with Love. He opened a new page in Taiwan's medical history and set up a paradigm for the medical profession.

A Skin Graft Given with Love tells the story of Chou Chin-yao (周金耀), a poor farm boy in Changhua in 1928. The 13 year-old suffered from serious skin ulcers on his right knee and the wound festered upward to his thigh. An amputation might be required to save Chou's life. In the hope of avoiding this, Marjorie Landsborough (連瑪玉) volunteered to donate skin from her thigh. Landsborough Sr. took the surgical knife himself and grafted four pieces of skin from his wife's thigh onto Chou's. At the time, there was no precedent for this procedure to which he could make reference.

Although the surgery failed due to mutual exclusion between heterogeneous bodies, Chou was on the mend. Later Chou even became a missionary under the Landsborough couple's guidance. In Changhua, everyone knows the heartwarming story. It is also an act of benevolence imprinted forever on the Chou family's memory. Chou himself once said, "Though the piece of skin could not be grafted onto my body, it is sewn in my heart."

That was not the end of the Landsborough legacy in Taiwan. To continue in the spirit of his father, Landsborough Jr. helped the Presbyterian Church in Changhua hold the first-ever foot washing ceremony in November, 1997. At the foot-washing, the superintendent of the Changhua Christian Hospital, Huang Chao-sheng (黃昭聲), stooped down to wash his employees' feet. They hoped this act would stir a feeling, prompting the practitioners to serve in modesty to make up for the inadequate medical technology they had.

Landsborough Jr. himself was even more considerate to his patients. In winter, he would warm the stethoscope with his hands before he examined patients so that patients would not feel the instrument's coldness.

Landsborough Jr. picked up where his father left off. After taking the job of the superintendent of the Changhua Christian Hospital, he not only helped the poor acquire medical care but also gave financial support to the needy children for school. His selfless commitment also influenced his colleagues, who displayed a philanthropic spirit. At the age of 28, Marjorie Amy Brooking (巫瑪玉) caught a tropical fever from her patients and died. On her tombstone was inscribed: "Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go: Life That Shall Endless Be."

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