Sat, Dec 30, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Long-lost uncle’s body found — at a medical school

By Tsai Shu-yuan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The discovery of Chen Tai-shan’s (陳泰山) body at Chung Shan Medical University concluded a two-decade search for him by his family, said his niece, surnamed Lin (林).

He would have been 87 years old this year.

“Uncle Chen was the fifth child in the Chen family and was very close to my mother, who was the sixth child,” Lin said on Thursday last week.

Chen was unmarried, but he was very jovial and loved to help others, Lin said.

Just before he went missing, her entire family had visited the noodle stall where Chen worked.

The family lost contact with him when they moved, Lin said.

After settling down in their new home, they found that Chen had left his job at the noodle stall, she added.

“Mother never stopped trying to find him. Just before she passed away in August, she told me to try and find uncle Chen,” she said.

Several months later, Lin said she received a call from Taichung’s North District Household Registration Office saying they had a lead on her uncle.

The office performs annual checks on individuals who have lost their centenarian fund card; registered residents who are 90 years old or more; 80-year-olds who have not used their National Health Insurance card in two years; and individuals who have not collected their new identification card, office director Chen Pei-yu (陳佩玉) said.

“We found that Chen Tai-shan had not changed his residence in more than 30 years and had not applied for the new version of the identification card. There was no record of him leaving the country and he had not taken his social benefit and elderly pension funds from his account,” Chen Pei-yu said. “He had no family, and his parents and siblings had all passed away. He seemed to have vanished.”

Liu Hsiu-lan (劉秀蘭), a member of staff at the office, said that Chen Tai-shan could not be found because not all old household registration records had been digitized and not all of those digitized records had been uploaded to the central archiving system.

However, Liu did not give up, and after multiple calls to the district office, the court and other places, she finally located a digital record of an autopsy on Chen Tai-shan, registered in February 2011.

Determined to help Lin locate Chen Tai-shan and fulfill the dying wish of her mother, Liu continued to ask after the body, visiting local borough wardens and public cemeteries.

After inquiring at funeral homes, Liu eventually found that Chen Tai-shan’s body had been taken by Chung Shan Medical University and had been a cadaver at the university for more than 16 years.

“We were so happy to find him at last,” Lin said.

Lin and her entire family visited the university to pay their respects to their long-lost uncle.

She said she hoped her mother and uncle would enjoy their reunion in their afterlife.

Cadavers used for research or teaching purposes are usually donated by willing families and unidentified bodies or those without next of kin are usually assigned to medical schools or centers by the local district prosecutors’ office, the university said.

It is the first time that the family of a cadaver previously thought to have no next of kin has turned up, the university said, adding that Chen Tai-shan’s family members have agreed to leave his body at the university for research and educational purposes.

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