Thursday, Nov 23rd

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Monday, 06 February 2017 00:00

Elder’s Body Donation a Positive Influence on Family Members

Written by  Low Siew Lian, Melaka / Translated by Goh Hwe Yong

Ong Cheen Leen, the third daughter of the demised, shared with Tzu Chi volunteers on her father’s story about body donation. [Photograph by Low Siew Lian]

Traditionally, when a person dies, his body is either buried or cremated. But a more meaningful way is to donate and preserve the body intact, for the purpose of medical research. Ong Hock Seng, aged 70-plus, from Melaka, did just that. His unselfish choice won him respect and was duly accepted by his family.


The three ways of giving in Buddhist teaching are giving of money, spreading of the Dharma, and fearless giving in other ways.

Master Cheng Yen often says that we only live our life, but we do not own it. If we choose to donate our body after death, so that it can be used for organ donation or medical research, it is an act of spreading the Dharma as well as fearless giving. The donor is respectfully referred to as a “Silent Mentor”.

While the local general public is well aware of “organ donation”, not many know about “body donation”. On November 9, 2011, Universiti Malaya and Tzu Chi University, Taiwan, signed a MoU, followed by the official launching of the “Silent Mentor Programme” on March 23, 2012.

Ong Hock Seng had always been an open-minded individual and had initially wanted a cremation with his ashes scattered over the sea on his demise. When he learnt of this programme in the news, he responded by enrolling with the support of his children. He even made a special trip to Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) to gain a better understanding of the programme.

Ong Cheen Leen, his third daughter, revealed that her father requested her to go with him to UMMC to learn about this programme so that she and her siblings would know what to do upon his demise to fulfil his wish to be a “Silent Mentor”. His “Body Donation Card” was always carried with pride.

Fulfilling a father’s wish

On February 1, 2017, Hock Seng was seriously injured by a motorcyclist while on his regular morning walk near Giant Hypermarket. He subsequently passed away at the Melaka General Hospital. He was 71 years old.

Upon receiving the devastating news, his family members promptly liaised with the relevant department at UMMC for an autopsy. After this, the body was reclaimed intact from the hospital and escorted to the Silent Mentor Centre, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya.

The family members witnessed the preparation of the body made by the doctor with his medical students. The procedure was explained to the family and assurance was given that the body would be treated with care and respect for the entire operation. These helped to reassure them.

Breaking tradition

On February 5, a simple symbolic cremation ritual was performed. As this was done only with the photograph of the demise, it surprised all who were at the ceremony. After they had learnt the reason behind this, they were impressed by the extraordinary decision of the deceased.

When Tzu Chi volunteers visited the Ong family on February 5 and 6, Hock Seng’s nephew said that he initially found it difficult to accept the idea of body donation. After understanding its significance, he thought it was a noble thing to do.

One of Hock Seng’s younger sister-in-law admitted her ignorance about body donation but thought it was a meaningful act once she heard the explanation. Another was impressed by his decision to donate his body for medical research and training purposes. She hoped to be able to do the same in good time.

Out of a kind thought, Hock Seng decided to give for a good cause. His kindness, when transformed into action changed the mindsets of many around him. They all agreed that this was a noble act and a lesson to all that one can still contribute compassionately through the body after death.

When the time comes for Hock Seng’s body to be used for the surgery-simulation, a ceremony will be held whereby the family members will be invited to take part. They will then get to see their beloved again as a silent mentor. Cheen Leen and her other five siblings believe that their father had done a good deed to help further the cause for medical research and education for the benefit of humanity.

 

A family photograph of Ong Hock Seng (front row, centre). [Photograph provided by Ong Hock Seng’s family]   Family members gave their greatest support for Ong Hock Seng’s decision to donate his body for a good cause. [Photograph by Tan Lian Hee]

A family photograph of Ong Hock Seng (front row, centre). [Photograph provided by Ong Hock Seng’s family]
 
Family members gave their greatest support for Ong Hock Seng’s decision to donate his body for a good cause. [Photograph by Tan Lian Hee]
 
Goh Yoke Bee felt that she should follow her brother-in-law’s example, since body donation was meaningful. [Photograph by Tan Lian Hee]   Tzu Chi volunteers revisited the Ong family to pay respect to the deceased, and to formally thank the family for their support for the programme. [Photograph by Low Siew Lian]

Goh Yoke Bee felt that she should follow her brother-in-law’s example, since body donation was meaningful. [Photograph by Tan Lian Hee]
 
 
Tzu Chi volunteers revisited the Ong family to pay respect to the deceased, and to formally thank the family for their support for the programme. [Photograph by Low Siew Lian]