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Sibling Saves Leukemia Patient

Cai Senming, 4, has survived the fatal disease leukemia, thanks to transplant of stem cells from the umbilical cord blood of his younger brother.

A healthy Cai left Shanghai Children's Medical Center yesterday, becoming the city's first patient to successfully undergo surgery for leukemia using sibling's umbilical cord blood.

The stem cells trans-planted from his seven-month-old brother on March 27, have taken root and generated healthy blood in Cai's body. His blood type has also changed from the original B to O, same as his brother's.

Doctors said that about 75 percent of sibling's umbilical cord blood can be used on patients while if one were to go to a bone marrow bank there's only a one in 10,000 chance of finding a matching blood type.

When Cai was diagnosed with leukemia in Guangdong Province last June, his mother was five months' pregnant.

"After learning that a sib-ling's umbilical cord blood could save my son, we were very relieved. Since the cancerous cells had invaded his liver at that time, only a transplant would have work-ed," said Cai Hongsheng, the father.

Their second son was born on November 5 in Shanghai No. 6 People's Hospital.

The whole treatment cost 200,000 yuan (US$24,096), including 150,000 yuan (US$18,072) from Cai's family and a 50,000-yuan donation from Project HOPE, a Hong Kong-based charity fund. Medical authorities said umbilical cord blood trans-plant is a low-cost, easy-to-conduct and a more effective alter-native to bone marrow surgery. "Bone marrow transplants normally cost 200,000 to 300,000 yuan," said Dr. Gu Longjun, who presided over Cai's surgery. "In addition, the rejection rate of umbilical cord blood transplant is lower than that of bone marrow."

(eastday.com June 14, 2002)

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