PhD Student with Terminal Illness Offers Her Head to Science to Find a Cure for Other Sufferers


She knew her head would be a big help to experts in finding a cure.

29-year-old Lou Tao was told that she was dying. Doctors told her that she had a debilitating disease called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease (MND. No cure has yet been found for ALS. However, there are treatments available that can help control symptoms, prevent unnecessary complications, and make living with the disease easier.

Knowing that there was no cure for the said disease, Lou knew she was in fact dying. But instead of thinking of her own body, she thought of what she could do even after death. She decided to donate all of her organs to those in need—including her head.

She knew how hard it was to have ALS, and how heart-breaking it can be in the end. With this at hand, the Peking University PhD candidate decided to donate her head to science, so that experts can analyse it and hopefully develop a cure from the research.

She discovered she had the deadly disease in October 2015 when she couldn’t move her toes one day and had been feeling physically weak since August 2015. She underwent several tests and was finally diagnosed with ALS in January last year. She wrote her will to donate all of her organs and her head while she still had a sound mind.

She wrote, “After I pass away, I want to give up my head for medical study and hope motor neuron disease can be overcome soon so that those suffer from this disease can get rid of the pain. Please follow my words: donate all my other organs to patients in need, as long as they can help save lives.”

Stating that she wanted her ashes to be scattered in the Yantgze River, she said: “Please let me leave quietly, without a trace, just as if I have never been in this world.” One of the most poignant sentences she wrote in her will said, “The meaning of life is not determined by how long or short one lives; rather, it is measured by the quality of one’s life.”

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