Gao Min wears a white T-shirt with the Red Cross logo. Photos by Lin Jianping except otherwise stated
Wearing a white T-shirt with the Red Cross logo, a pair of blue jeans and sneakers, and carrying a backpack full of documents, Gao Min tramps the streets heading to different places every day for her work — organ donation coordination.
Gao, a full-time organ donation coordinator for the Red Cross Society of China Shenzhen Branch, is always on call to those in need. Although claiming she has no house, car and money with a note of self-mockery, she believes that being an organ donation coordinator is an invaluable asset for her.
Gao Min (R) communicates with a family member of a body donor at Shenzhen Funeral Home in Longgang District.
In June 1999, Gao learned from media reports that the organs of the deceased can save others’ lives. In 2005, Gao, a volunteer from the Red Cross Society of China Shenzhen Branch, received a call at work.
On the other end of the line, a mother from Hubei Province was weeping in grief. Her 18-year-old daughter, Jin Sheng, passed away due to a traffic accident. She wanted to donate her daughter’s organs to people in need. After a few setbacks, she reached out to the Red Cross Society of China Shenzhen Branch.
Under Gao’s coordination, the donation was eventually completed. Jin’s kidneys saved two boys in Shanghai, her liver saved a boy in Wuhan and her corneas helped four patients regain their vision.
“I was stunned by the news. One life was lost, but three young lives were saved and four were able to see the light again. It gave a second chance in life,” Gao told Shenzhen Daily in an interview Thursday.
“An act of kindness helped save seven families, showing there is good in humanity. I think it was something well worth doing. So, I thought I could do more in the future,” Gao said.
Gao Min (R) works as an organ donation coordinator.
Gao’s work as an organ donation coordinator is the first in China. In 2007, she officially became the organ donation coordinator for the Red Cross Society of China Shenzhen Branch, and also the first in the country.
Gao Min checks the information before donation.
In 2008, the then National Health and Family Planning Commission entrusted the Red Cross Society of China to establish the first standardized organ donation office in Shenzhen. Gao became the office’s full-time organ donation coordinator.
For both donors and transplant recipients, time is precious. In addition to coordinating and ensuring the successful completion of organ donation, Gao also needs to care for the donor’s family and provide them with help and services.
So far, according to Gao, she has successfully coordinated over 600 body donations, over 500 organ donations and nearly 1,000 cornea donations.
Gao Min helps the donor's family to fill the donation form.
Despite dealing with hundreds of donation cases, Gao can still vividly recall many details and rattled off stories that stayed with her. “Each of them has different life experiences. But in my eyes, they are all equal and share a kind heart.”
However, organ donation coordination is never an easy task. According to Gao, in her job, one must have strong mental endurance and be open-minded toward life and death, and also be able to confront each donation directly.
“You have to be able to endure loneliness and bear unreasonable doubts, blame, misunderstanding or groundless complaints, and even verbal abuse from the donors or their family members,” Gao explained.
In addition, an organ donation coordinator needs to be strong and have a strong sense of responsibility, unafraid of suffering or being put into trouble, and have the willingness to sacrifice at any time while at work.
An application form of organ donation provided by Red Cross Society of China Shenzhen Branch.
Gao, who has been working in her job for over 10 years, has earned a long list of honors for her selfless dedication, including the title of Guangdong Good Samaritan in the first quarter of this year.
“The recognition is an encouragement for me to push myself a little harder,” Gao said. Most importantly, she thinks the job has “enriched her life beyond measure.”
Work as an organ donation coordinator has enriched Gao Min's life beyond measure.
“In this world, no amount of money can buy trust. But I am honored to have all the trust from others. So, I think I’m the ‘wealthiest’ person,” she said, adding that all the unhappiness at work is nothing compared with the good in the world.