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Taiwan Donor Helps Leukaemia Girl

Through the window of the germ-free ward, Sun Cheng fondly watched his 7-year-old daughter Sun Bingcheng stretching a little as she dreamt.

A little smile began to emerge on the face of this father, who seems to have aged a lot since the girl was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in March, because he knows that in another week's time, Bingcheng will have a new life and regain her health.

With the help of the Tzu Chi Taiwan Marrow Donor Registry (TCTMDR), a matching bone marrow donor was found in Taiwan, thousands of miles from Bingcheng's home in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

"It's miraculous, the success rate of matching bone marrow is about one in 100,000 among non-relatives," said Zhang Bolong, who is in charge of Sun's treatment.

Sun Bingcheng is the first leukaemia patient in northeast China to receive a marrow donation from Taiwan.

It means a kind of rebirth for her, but it will also mean a lot to the Heilongjiang Blood Disease and Tumour Hospital.

Sun came to the hospital in March. Zhang said that because she has no siblings, the doctors had to appeal for help to the Zhonghua Marrow Bank, also known as the Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Donor Databank, to find a donor. But the database, which has more than 250,000 registered potential donors, failed to find a match.

Harbouring one last glimmer of hope, Zhang resorted to the Tzu Chi registry, the largest in Asia with nearly 280,000 registrants.

Ma Jun, director of the Heilongjiang Hospital, told China Daily on Friday that at first they were uncertain about whether the TCTMDR would accept its appeal.

"Though TCTMDR has donated marrow to save the lives of compatriots on the Chinese mainland many times, it has a strict high standard for the marrow transplant strength of the destination hospital," Ma said.

"Mainly they send bone marrow to Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, which have better-known hospitals."

After a half-month inspection of the hospital, TCTMDR finally agreed to take Sun's blood sample. In its search, a 36-year-old man surnamed Wang, from Taiwan, was finally found. After some negotiation, Wang agreed to donate.

"It meant the TCTMDR approved our medical ability and will continue to supply marrow to Harbin in the future, if necessary a good thing for patients in Northeast China," Ma said.

So, from next Tuesday, Wang will donate his bone marrow cells on five consecutive days. On the last day, September 3, at around 10 am, a courier with the marrow will fly to Hong Kong and change flights to Harbin. The marrow is expected to arrive around midnight.

"Once the marrow arrives, we will immediately carry out the transplant operation, as the marrow has to be transplanted within 24 hours," Ma said.

Sun Cheng said: "I hope to express my sincere thanks a million times to this never-met-before Mr Wang and TCTMDR. The Taiwan Straits obviously cannot cut the blood ties between people from both sides."

(China Daily August 27, 2005)

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