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Students unite in stem-cell search for ailing classmate
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Students in the Songjiang campus of Donghua University are rallying to save the life of one of their gifted peers, who is stricken with acute leukemia.

They have called on all students to register for a stem-cell test to assist Wei Jiayun.

Hundreds of volunteers from seven varsities in Songjiang University Town gathered at Donghua University on Monday, giving blood samples and joining the nation's stem-cell donors' bank in the hope of finding a match so Wei can receive stem-cell transplant surgery.

Wei, a graduate student at Donghua University, was diagnosed with the disease on July 31. Majoring in computer science, Wei is talented in mathematics and has won several national awards.

And along with intelligence, she also has compassion. Since 2003, Wei has given a blind girl weekly computer lessons.

Wei's schoolmates have organized events to help raise money. In the heavy rain of Typhoon Wipha on September 18, donations kept coming and so far about 80,000 yuan (US$10,645) has been collected.

"We all believe she can conquer the disease," said Wei's roommate, Zhao Siqi.

The key is to find a matching stem cell donor.

Stem cells can replicate any cell in the body. Adult samples, such as blood-forming stem cells in the bone marrow, are the only types used to treat diseases like leukemia.

However, the chance of finding a matching donor can be as great as one in 10,000 at the nation's stem cell bank, so most leukemia patients face a long wait.

"There are tens of thousands of students in Songjiang University Town, and if all of them are willing to donate stem cells, it may be possible for Wei to find a matching donor," said Tao Li, a tutor of the graduate department in Donghua University.

Computer students have produced posters to put on the walls of canteens and dormitories, calling on other students to join the China Stem Cell Bank.

After registering at the bank, volunteers should leave personal data and blood samples.

(Shanghai Daily October 18, 2007)

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