China records 17,000th bone marrow donor

2024-02-27 10:12:45China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

An e-commerce worker and longtime blood donor in Zhejiang province became the country's 17,000th bone marrow stem cell donor on Monday morning.

To prepare for the collection of peripheral blood stem cells, the 33-year-old man, surnamed Xu, said he spent Saturday's Lantern Festival in a hospital, together with Red Cross volunteers and a person who had previously donated bone marrow.

"It was the first time that I celebrated the festival in a hospital ward, but I felt great warmth and pride in contributing to saving a life," he said.

China reported its first bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor in 1996. According to the China Marrow Donor Program, a nonprofit organization that operates a national databank on volunteers, the number of donations reached 10,000 in August 2000,15,000 in April last year, and 17,000 on Monday.

It said 375 donations have been made to patients in 31 countries and regions.

The number of donations last year hit a record 2,157, the organization said, adding that a daily record of 30 donations was also set last year.

Hematopoietic stem cell donations from unrelated volunteers could be lifesaving for patients with blood diseases like leukemia and sickle cell anemia.

The organization has more than 3.4 million volunteers in its registry. Last year, young adults aged 18 to 35 accounted for about 74 percent of new volunteers, with the rest aged 36 to 45.

"The drive has attracted an increasing number of young people and they have become the main force of volunteers and donors nowadays," it said.

A 35-year-old woman surnamed Shi from Qingdao, Shandong province, signed up for the registry in 2018.

"I was struck by a news report in which the mother of a 5-year-old baby with leukemia was pleading for help and felt an urge to lend a helping hand," she said,

It was not until five years later, in October last year, that she received a call saying she matched a patient.

"I was told it was a nearly perfect match," she said. "There was a slim chance for that to happen. I was very happy to know that."

To physically qualify as a bone marrow donor, Shi began working out regularly and adjusted her lifestyle.

Before donation, a donor receives injections to stimulate the growth of blood stem cells. But Shi's donation was delayed several times due to the sudden worsening of the recipient's condition.

Shi eventually completed the procedure on Monday afternoon.

"I did not register as a volunteer on an impulse. I did some research beforehand, so I was not intimidated by the whole process," she said. "When I sometimes felt unwell or anxious, nurses and Red Cross officials were always by my side to take care of me."

Shi does not know the identity of the recipient, but local Red Cross officials passed on a printed letter from the recipient.

"The words in the letter came as no surprise to me, but I was deeply moved nonetheless," she said. "It was totally worth it."

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