If you want to know what the human spirit can do, how capable we are of doing good, and how we would behave if we made decisions to of love instead of fear, then this story about the courageous heart of Chen Xiaotian will tell you. We are all capable of the kind of love this young boy has for his mother…
At five years old, Chen was diagnosed with brain cancer. The doctors who found the malignant tumor on his brain still believed the little boy would eventually recover. Almost simultaneously, Chen’s mother, Zhou Lu, was diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of 34. Both mother and son battled their illness separately and together for two years. Can you imagine either being a mother who watches her son spend his childhood in and out of the hospital or a child seeing your mother wither away?
Though their initial prognosis was hopeful, Chen’s doctors started to realize his condition was more grave than they originally believed. When they could delay the news no longer, they approached Chen’s grandmother, Lu Yuanxiu, for a course of action. They had a solution in mind that they knew they could not ask a loving mother to consider.
The doctors explained to Chen’s grandmother that his chances for survival were slim to none. The cancer was aggressive and would take the boy’s life much sooner than they had anticipated. However, though the boy’s brain was affected, he had a healthy liver and kidneys that could save his mother’s life and possibly the lives of others in need of donors. Can you imagine the weight of a mother and grandmother – it’s essentially asking her to choose her daughter’s life and slightly prematurely end her grandson’s.
Lu decided to talk to her daughter about their impossible situation. You can imagine Zhou Lu was furious and devastated. How could anyone ask her to agree to this? No matter how short his life might be, how could she agree to end it and go on in this world without him?
Chen overheard the discussion and he had no hesitation about agreeing with the doctors. At 7 years of age, this child was somehow able to override our natural survival instinct and thought only of his love for his mother. It’s unimaginable, isn’t it? Could you have agreed to ending your own life for the sake of others at that tender age?
Chen went to his mother and asked her to let the doctors follow through with their plan. He wanted his mother to live and he accepted his time was coming to an end. It was the loving request of her son that broke Zhou Lu and convinced her to agree.
We can only imagine what those last moments together must have been like – to look into your son’s pleading eyes and thank him for his sacrifice against every loving fiber of your being that can’t allow for the cold, heavy truth. Zhou Lu attempted to comfort herself with the knowledge that a part of Chen would be within her until her final breath.
The doctors paused for a moment of silence and prayer prior to the procedure. Even though they knew this was the best solution, it was beyond difficult to end the life of such a soul… one they probably encounter once in a lifetime.
When Chen died, his organs were successfully transplanted for his mother, a 21 year old girl needing the other kidney, and a 27 year old man in need of a liver. Chen saved three lives through his unnatural maturation and tremendously generous spirit.
These are choices no one should have to make – the clear eyes of a child knew what he had to give, which was everything he had left, and how it would bring immeasurable value to something beyond himself. The person he loved more than anyone else could continue being that person because of his one, precious gift.