For many people, late-night calls bring unwanted disturbance, but for 74-year-old Zhao Yonghua, they are a cause for excitement.
When his phone rings at night, Zhao, a volunteer advocate for body donation, replies "I'll be there asap," puts on his clothes and rushes to the scene.
"Sometimes a phone call informs me the death of a voluntary body donor, and in such cases every minute counts," he said.
Upon arriving at the scene, Zhao helps bereaved families fill in application forms, and answers their questions on the body donation procedure.
Formerly a worker in north China's Tianjin municipality, Zhao has been an advocate for body donation for about 20 years.
In 2002, Zhao notarized his will for body donation, as did his wife. Before that, the couple had set up a service hotline to promote body donation and organized voluntary activities
So far, Zhao's volunteer group, which has over 100 people, has assisted more than 2,000 people to apply for body donation, with their registrations being filed.
"My job does not stop at getting them to sign the papers. We visit the families of the donors often and show them respect," he said.
In a memorial park in Tianjin, the names of 803 body donors are engraved on a monument, and Zhao knows a third of them.
Zhang Ping, director of department of anatomy and histology at Tianjin Medical University (TMU), said that a growing number of volunteers like Zhao Yonghua had contributed to the increase of body donations in the school.
"Anatomy is a basic medical course. Students can obtain a better understanding of physiology and pathology through practical operations," Zhang said.
The university started receiving willed bodies for medical training in the 1980s. Total donations reached 797, among which 86 were received in 2018.
Li Rui, a senior student at TMU, said she had been deeply touched after visiting the hall that was built by the university in 2002 to display the last words of the body donors.
"I pay tribute to these donors and want to be one like them," Li said.
Figures from the Red Cross Society of China Tianjin branch show that a total of 827 body donations, 908 organ donations and 456 cornea donations had been completed as of March 2019.
In Beijing, more than 2,600 donated bodies have been used for medical research and education since the city launched body donation registry in 1999.
Liu Wenhua, an employee with the Red Cross Society of China Nanjing branch, said more than 2,000 donations have been received so far in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province.
China's body donation rate rose from 0.03 to 4.53 donors per million in the past decade, with the number of registered body and organ donors exceeding 1.16 million by the end of March, according to the China Organ Donation Administrative Center.
(Source: China Daily)