It is natural for a woman to have a baby at the age of 36. But it was not usual for Jiang Xiumin, who gave birth to a baby girl recently.
Jiang gave birth for the sole purpose of saving the life of her 12-year-old son Song Linyu, who was diagnosed with leukemia last December, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.
Doctors told Jiang, from the Manchu Autonomous County of Xinbin in the northern province of Liaoning, that her son could live for only another 12 to 18 months, even if he underwent chemotherapy.
Jiang was also told that the most-effective way to save her son was to transplant umbilical cord blood stem cells into his body.
After learning that their own healthy baby could provide the stem cells needed by her son, Jiang and her husband decided to have another baby.
Jiang's case may not be typical, but today many Chinese parents plan to pre-serve cord blood stem cells from and for their newborn babies, Xinhua said.
More than 2,500 families have signed agreements with a Tianjin-based cord blood stem cells bank, the first in China, to store cord blood stem cells for their babies.
Some of these parents come from the cities of Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing, and Shanxi Province.
Jiang's son has undergone a transplantation and should leave hospital very soon, according to the news agency.
Many parents say they preserve their baby's cord blood stem cells for the purpose of possibly preserving their children's lives, even though their children will not necessarily use the stem cells.
Doctors say the storage of one's cord blood stem cells can avoid difficulties such as finding stem cells to match the patient's blood type and can greatly reduce medical fees.
Clinical cases in other countries have shown that cord blood stem cells, stored for 20 years, have been successfully transplanted.
The number of leukemia patients in China increases by 40,000 to 50,000 yearly, with 50 percent being children.
Doctors say that cord blood stem cells are not only good for the child from whom they come, but also provide hope for their parents and relatives.
It is learned that cities of Beijing and Shanghai are also preparing for the establishment of cord blood stem cells banks.
(eastday.com November 15, 2001)