Skip to main content

Tom Jung: Generous in life and death

“Traditionally, organ donation is not something the Asian community discusses,” says Bonita Jung. By sharing her dad Tom's organ donation story, she and her family hope to inspire others in the Chinese Canadian community.
Use this image as both the current Page Image and for News listings

Henley has a lot of favourite memories of her “Gong Gong”, the Chinese word for grandfather. The eight-year-old often spent time with him after school and says Gong Gong loved spoiling her and her two younger brothers Nixon and Grayson with treats, such as ice cream. Tom Jung was just that kind of person, according to Bonita Jung, his daughter and Henley’s mom.

“He would always help whenever he could and would rarely say no to the ones he loved,” adds Bonita. “He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Watching him spoil his grandchildren was a highlight as I journeyed through parenthood.”

Tom’s wife Margaret says, “He took care of everyone.”

Tom also doted on Bonita’s dog Rascal, who really became his dog once Bonita’s twin boys were born and she was too busy juggling three young kids.

“My dad loved the dog and spoiled him. He was constantly walking Rascal and giving him treats. He would even sleep with Rascal!” smiles Bonita.

Tom and Margaret took up table tennis after he retired from the health care industry, which helped them form new friendships in the community. They played every day they were not looking after their grandchildren.

“Tom was better than me!” laughs Margaret. “We played together, and we did not really keep track of points. We just wanted to have a little bit of exercise.”

The Vancouver couple also loved travelling, especially cruising, taking advantage of deals and often going last-minute. One of their most memorable trips was a cross-Canada road trip with Margaret’s sister and brother-in-law. They spent time in Hawaii, Mexico, France, England, Spain, Alaska, and many other destinations. Margaret and Tom’s last trip together was to the United States.

A final act of generosity
In June 2022, Tom collapsed while playing table tennis, suffering from a cardiac arrest. Tom was rushed to St. Paul’s Hospital, and he was resuscitated, but the damage to his brain was too severe. When his family was asked about organ donation, it was a difficult conversation.
The Jungs had never discussed organ donation as a family. Tom did not ever talk about death, despite the urging of his family doctor to plan for his end-of-life by preparing a will and thinking about his final wishes. In Chinese culture, organ donation is often met with mixed feelings. While organ donation is seen as an honourable deed that saves lives, that is coupled with Confucian beliefs about keeping the body intact at death.
“For many Chinese people, they believe in burying the body whole,” explains Margaret. “But when we were in the hospital, when I was asked about organ donation, something just clicked in my mind. I thought why shouldn’t I do it?”
“Traditionally, organ donation is not something the Asian community discusses,” adds Bonita. “And this was something I never thought my mother would consider.  It was heartwarming that in our time of sadness, she was thinking of the impact on others.”

At the age of 74, Tom saved or transformed three other lives by donating his kidneys and corneas.

Inspiring others to think about organ donation
Bonita says organ donation has brought her family peace. “While this was a tragic event, he was able to help others with the gift of life and will continue living on through others.”

There is not a day that goes by that they don’t miss their grandfather, father, and husband. 

“I wonder who his recipients are, how old are they, what do they do, how are they doing?” wonders Margaret. “But it feels good to know part of him is still here.”
The family is also hopeful their decision will create a ripple effect within the Chinese Canadian community, showing others the positive side of organ donation.


“I think that attitudes and beliefs about organ donation will change with the next generation, as we share stories like my dad’s,” says Bonita. “When we took Henley out of school to participate in the BC Transplant photo shoot, she was really proud to tell her friends about what her Gong Gong did. Even though Gong Gong is gone, he lives on. His generosity lives on.”

There are currently 585 British Columbians awaiting a life-saving transplant. Are you registered? Take two minutes and

Did you know our organ donor registration form is available in traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese

SOURCE: Tom Jung: Generous in life and death ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Transplant. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2024 Provincial Health Services Authority