Mon, Jan 24, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Brain-dead toddler donates vital organs

TRAGEDY `Little sister' Chiu, the abused four-year-old whose plight has shocked the nation, was declared brain-dead yesterday. Her organs will go to suitable recipients

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Suitable recipients have been found for the liver and kidneys of the critically ill and abused four-year old girl whose plight has gripped the nation, medical officials announced after officially declaring the girl brain-dead at 3pm yesterday.

"We have to accept the reality and allow `little sister' Chiu to leave with dignity," said Lee Ming-Chiung (李明鐘), the doctor heading the medical team taking care of the girl, surnamed "Chiu," at the Tung's TaiChiung Metro Harbor Hospital (童綜合醫院).

She was sent to this hospital two weeks ago after being turned away from several hospitals in Taipei.

Hospital officials and representatives of the girl's medical team yesterday afternoon announced her officially brain-dead, after performing two sets of brain-function tests in the morning.

Speaking on behalf of the abused girl's family, which did not make an appearance at yesterday's press conference, the hospital said that the family had agreed to donate the girl's liver and kidneys and that suitable recipients had already been found.

Chiu's organs will be donated to patients in Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Kaohsiung, it was understood yesterday.

"The organ donation is an expression of love. We and her family all hope that the donation will give Chiu a `bonus' in starting over in the next life," Lee said yesterday.

"In her next life, I hope that Chiu can be a happy angel," Lee said.

While the media has long speculated that the girl was brain-dead given her failing physical condition, the girl's family held out hope until yesterday that something could be done to save her life.

While it was speculated that the family would also donate Chiu's corneas, the medical team said yesterday that Chiu's mother had decided against such a move, in order to give Chiu's spirit a way to "see the way home."

In response to the news, Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also expressed his regret.

Being the father of two daughters himself, he said he could understand the Chiu family's pain, adding that the city government would do its best to help the family in any way possible.

"This event is especially sad, since the person who sent her [Chiu] from this world was her father," Ma said.

Chiu was sent to TaiChiung for medical care after being severely beaten by her father and rejected by Taipei City's emergency medical network two weeks ago. The case triggered a public outcry and an investigation into the health-system lapses that led to her being transfered from Taipei's Jen Ai Hospital to a hospital in TaiChiung.

While Chiu's case has been portrayed as a medical scandal by the media, Child Welfare League Deputy Executive Director Wang Mei-en (王美恩) yesterday called on the public to consider the social aspects of the case.

"While Chiu's case has revealed problems in the medical system, it has also shown us that there are problems with our child-abuse and domestic-violence prevention networks," Wang said.

"Actually, Chiu's case is very typical of domestic abuse situations; we see many similar and even more tragic cases in our work every day," Wang said, adding that around 8,000 child abuse cases occur in Taiwan every year.

Families running a high risk of domestic violence might typically have parents facing multiple pressures, ranging from sickness in the family to unemployment or marital problems, Wang said.

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