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Parents' mercy mission for stricken little boy
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A five-year-old boy with a rare blood disease faces an agonising wait to see if his parents can raise enough money for a second life-saving bone marrow operation.

The boy's parents borrowed 200,000 yuan (US$27,027) for an operation in July which involved a transplant from his 10-year-old sister - but a second transplant is required.

Yang Chi, from Jiangxi Province, came down with a fever in February and could not recover, so he came to Shanghai for treatment.

In April, doctors at Shanghai Children's Medical Center diagnosed him with acute acquired severe aplastic anemia, a disease that wipes out bone marrow - a transplant was vital.

According to Chen Jing, a doctor at Shanghai Children's Medical Center where Yang is receiving treatment, the donor's and recipient's tissue types must match, or the recipient's immune system will reject the implant.

Fortunately for Yang, his sister's bone marrow matched that of his own.

Chen said the chances of a match are one in four between relatives.

To donate marrow to her young brother, Yang Ying gave up her final schooling examination in Jiangxi and came to Shanghai in June, one month ahead of her brother's operation.

Yang Chi seemed to recover in the three months following the transplant, doctors said.

To save money, Yang's parents rented a six-square-meter room on Hunan Road - 20 kilometers away from the hospital - for 120 yuan a month.

"It's too expensive for us to let our son live in hospital, so during the period we lived in this rented room," said Yang Wuliang, Yang Chi's father. "When it was time for Yang Chi to have a check-up, we just took the bus to the hospital."

However, in November, Yang's disease recurred.

"Yang's original cells were still retained in his body and they have engulfed all his sister's normal cells that had been transplanted into his body," Chen said.

Doctors said Yang could take medicine for treatment, but it would possibly fail to take effect concerning his recurrence. His most hopeful option is to undergo a bone marrow transplant again, which is expected to cost another 200,000 yuan. Chen said they had reported Yang's case to the Shanghai Red Cross to apply for help from the foundation.

(Shanghai Daily December 18, 2007)

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