Head donating PhD student soldiers on

The condition of a PhD student suffering from ALS, who agreed to donate her head and other body parts to help others, has caught the attention of many.

The condition of a PhD student suffering from a debilitating illness, who agreed to donate her head and other body parts to help others, has caught the attention of the Chinese people.

Lou Tao's picture on her father's mobile, which was taken during her college.

Lou Tao, 29, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — also known as Lou Gehrig's disease — last January, shortly after she started studying for a doctorate at Peking University.

Lou in her hospital bed.

She became paralyzed last November and was moved into the ICU of a hospital in her hometown of Xianfeng, Hubei Province this January after falling into a deep coma and losing her ability to breathe.

On October 7, she indicated to her father that she wanted to give up treatment and donate her organs.

Lou and her father before she got sick.

She asked a nurse to help her write down her will, in which she said she wanted to donate her head for medical research, and her other organs to help save lives after her death.

"I hope ALS can be cured soon so that people who suffer from it can get rid of the pain," Lou’s will, which greatly touched Chinese netizens, read.

Lou's parents decided to support her decision and signed on to the human organ donation sheet on her behalf on October 9 in Wuhan, where she was transferred into an intensive care unit.

But with the great effort of doctors, Lou's condition became stable and she can now communicate with the help of an eye tracker provided by a non-profit organization. The instrument allows her to type by moving her eyes.

Lou uses an eye tracker to communicate with others.

Her family told Beijing Youth Daily that Lou's emotions were not stable and that sometimes she would tell them to stop treatment as she was in too much pain. 

Many warm-hearted people, including other ALS patients, encouraged her to continue through her struggles.

A doctor encourages Lou to persevere. 

A patient in Beijing wrote a letter to Lou, via Weibo, and used his own experience to encourage her to keep fighting.

The man, Wang Jia, said he was diagnosed with ALS in 2007, when he was just 24 years old. With the progression of his disease, he also gradually lost the ability to eat and breathe and can only rely on the care of his parents — he is now wheelchair-bound. 

He hasn't given up hope and has finished writing some books with the help of an eye tracker. 

"Now my task is living with my mom and dad, making boring things fun, and turning misfortune into happiness," he said. 

Meanwhile, Lou is still being cared for in Wuhan. "We will not give up on her and hope she can be stronger." her mother said.

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