An honorable man writes his final farewell

By Yang Guang (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-01-01 08:22
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Beijing - Shi Tiesheng, a Beijing-based disabled writer well known for his novels promoting the struggle against adversity, became an organ donor after he died of a cerebral hemorrhage on Friday morning.

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Shi, 59, donated his spinal marrow and brain for medical research, and his liver to a patient in need, said Ling Feng, director of the neurosurgery department of Xuanwu Hospital of the Capital Medical University.

"The recipient of Shi's liver was found in Tianjin at the right time, and the transplant operation was successfully done this morning," Ling said.

"In addition to his liver, Shi also donated his spinal marrow and brain for medical research.

"He looked as serene as if he had been asleep," said Ling who, with many of Shi's friends from the Chinese Writers Association, said farewell to Shi in the hospital's mortuary on Friday morning.

"He made a contribution to others in an honorable way. As long as the person he donated his liver to survives, he is still alive."

Born in Beijing in 1951, Shi was sent to rural Shaanxi province as an educated urban youth during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).

Paralyzed in both legs after an accident at 21, he was sent back to Beijing and worked in a neighborhood factory. From 1998, he suffered from kidney failure and had to undergo dialysis treatment three times a week.

Shi began to publish in 1979. He is best known for his short stories My Faraway Clear Peace River and Strings of Life, essays The Temple of Earth and I and Fragments Written at the Hiatuses of Sickness, and novels Notes on Principles and My Sojourn in Ding Yi.

A collection of his short stories was translated into English and published as Strings on Life in 1991.

He won many of the country's literature prizes, including the Lu Xun Literature Prize, the Lao She Essay Prize and the National Excellent Short Story Prize.

"Physical affliction made him more keenly conscious of his existence," friend and fellow writer Chen Cun said.

Shi admitted in The Temple of Earth and I that he was constantly seized by depression and mental turmoil.

But the tortured soul managed to transcend his personal predicament and he meditated in his writings on the existence of the invalid and men in general.

"Shi survived a setback, which either devastates a person or pacifies him," friend and fellow writer Jiang Zidan said.

Arguably one of the few Chinese writers with a serious religious sense, Shi had long been preparing to bid farewell to the world. He wrote in The Temple of Earth and I: "Death is a thing one never needs to be anxious to seek - it is a festival bound to arrive."

Zhou Wenting contributed to this story.