Final Respect

The story of the 11 year old Chinese boy who died last month of brain cancer but not before donating his organs, is a sad yet an uplifting one. But the photo of the doctors paying their respect as his body is rolled our with his mother crying in the background hit a nerve.


Has the doctors’ bow eased the mother’s pain? Has it evened out the sense of injustice, calamity, senseless loss and tragedy for the child that died at the age of eleven? And how, why and who took the photo at that critical moment? Or maybe – just maybe, could it be staged?

The photo and the story behind it, made me think of Akira Kurosawa’s Roshomon and the interpretative labyrinth of possibilities and subjective truth.

But in the end, it’s all irrelevant. According to the story in China Daily, the little boy wanted to become a doctor to save lives. He somehow knew that he could do just that it if he donated his organs – so that was his way to come as close to a dream that was never meant to be. And he convinced his parents that this was the right thing to do.

The photo that echoes many more than a thousand words, was interpreted as being all about the doctors paying tribute to the choice of the dead child. Yet, this photo could be about many things:

  • The doctors’ tribute and final respect to their patient who donated his organs;
  • The mother’s despair in spite of the doctors’ bowing to her dead son and his decision to save lives;
  • The poster photo for a marketing campaign for organ donation;
  • The reminder that every ending can also bear the seeds of new beginnings and possibilities and ultimately hope.

The way I see it, it’s all about determination and clarity and subsequently focus, especially when it comes to figuring out what exactly the dream is, where it will take us and how it will change our world or the even better – the world at large.

But I am also a romantic. Unavoidably, I was touched by the bow, the appreciation, the gratitude shown by the doctors – the ultimate tribute and respect to the little eleven year old boy who lost the battle to cancer.

Whatever emotions, thoughts, puzzles the photo brings up in you, Pirandello said it all in his wonderful poignant play, Right you are! (if you think so!)…

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