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China to Build World's Largest Bone Marrow Bank
China has planned to build the world's largest bone marrow bank for Chinese with 500,000 samples in seven years, Wang Lizhong, vice president of the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC), said Monday in Beijing.

"Once the bank is completed, most overseas Chinese in need of abone marrow transplant will be able to find their match from the bank," said Wang.

He said the Chinese government had allocated 330 million RMB yuan (US$39.76 million) to the RCSC, most of which would be used to build the bank.

Bone marrow transplant is the most effective cure found so far for blood diseases like leukemia and serious anemia.

In China, which has a population of 1.3 billion, more than 40,000 lives are lost each year to leukemia, with most victims being children and teenagers.

Meanwhile, Chinese who live overseas and suffer from leukemia have great difficulty in finding matching bone marrow donors due to the scarcity of Chinese bone marrow samples in foreign banks.

According to Professor Lu Dao of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the chance for two bone marrow to be matches is one out of four among brothers and sisters, and is merely one out of 400 to 10,000 among people with no blood links.

So far, 48 bone marrow banks have been founded in 37 countries and regions across the world. The largest is in the United States, boasting 4.6 million samples. The existing China Bone Marrow Bank only contains some 50,000 samples.

Currently, more than 100,000 volunteers across China have registered to be prospective bone marrow donors, and experts are busy testing their samples and recording relevant data into the bank, said Lu.

(People’s Daily December 24, 2002)

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