Everyone at Taipei Huajiang Senior High School spent a quiet moment on Thursday morning during the flag-raising ceremony to pray for Chen Tzu-huan (陳子桓), a student who had decided to put his education on hold so that he can donate part of his liver to his father.
They waited with bated breath until later Thursday evening, when news returned that the transplant had been a success.
Chen’s family runs a small restaurant, and his father worked more than 15 hours per day to support the family, said the school’s dean, Chen Ching-chen (陳今珍).
Over the course of a year, Chen Tzu-huan’s father’s health continued to worsen, but he nonetheless managed to maintain his busy schedule at the restaurant.
However, the extended exertion and long working hours, which included buying all the cooking materials himself and running the restaurant until midnight, combined with sleep deprivation and being a hepatitis B carrier, resulted in liver cirrhosis, a condition doctors said would be fatal unless he received a transplant, the dean said.
The past year saw Chen Tzu-huan’s father in and out of the hospital, while his mother worked a second job to support the family. Chen Tzu-huan was his father’s principal caretaker during this time, Chen Ching-chen said.
“We weren’t even aware that he intended to donate part of his liver until we noticed that he had an extended absence after the conclusion of the college entrance exam two months ago,” the dean said.
“I can easily retake a third year of senior-high school, but my father’s life can brook no delay,” Chen Tzu-huan told the dean when she met with him to discuss his decision to take a gap year.
He said that since the other members of his family did not fit the criteria for a living organ transplant, and his sister was too young, he decided he would be the donor.
“He told me that he had intended to do it when he was in his second year of senior high,” when he was still too young to be a donor, the dean said.
After he reached the required age in September last year, Chen Tzu-huan finally persuaded his mother to contact the Department of Health to apply for a review of the case, Chen Ching-chen said, adding that the Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital found him a suitable donor and performed the surgery on Thursday.
After eight hours of surgery, the doctors declared the procedure a success. Chen Tzu-huan’s mother expressed her appreciation to everyone at the school for their concern and support.
Chen Tzu-huan said the military instructor at his school, Huang Hung (黃弘), had encouraged him and told him how he had been a living liver donor for his own father six years ago.