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Chinese man with muscular dystrophy hangs himself

September 4, 2013

BEIJING (AP) — A disabled man in eastern China hanged himself after sending police a text message saying he wished to donate his organs, but the local Red Cross said it could not accept the offer, state media reported Wednesday.

The Xinhua News Agency said the 30-year-old man, identified only by his surname, Wang, had muscular dystrophy and had lately grown despondent at not being able to walk or take care of himself.

Care for the disabled in China has improved only slowly despite roaring economic growth, and many poor or working class families struggle to provide basic aids such as wheelchairs. Muscular dystrophy causes progressive skeletal muscular weakness, and reports said Wang had needed a wheelchair since he was 15.

Wang texted his local police station in the city of Hangzhou early Monday morning, saying he was committing suicide and expressing his desire to donate his body and organs, according to Xinhua and the official news service of Zhejiang province.

They said he was found shortly afterward hanging from an air conditioning unit with his wheelchair beside him.

The reports said Wang’s family had sought to comply with his wishes to donate his body and organs. However, the local Red Cross said it was unable to accept the donation because Wang had not signed a release or taken a physical exam.

Facing a large shortfall in organs for transplant, and criticism for relying on executed prisoners for donations, China has tried to make it easier for individuals to become donors.

However, changes to the system are still being instituted, and donations have been hampered by the need for universal agreement among the donor’s family members.

Update hourly