Chinese donors give the gift of life

Updated: 2015-01-22 07:35

By Shan Juan(China Daily)

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China's State-level bone marrow bank has facilitated 183 overseas donations involving 19 countries and regions including South Korea, the United States and Germany, the Red Cross Society of China said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Founded in 1992, the bank has 2 million registered donors, the fourth largest after the US, Germany and Brazil, said Hao Linna, vice-president of the Red Cross Society of China, which oversees the bank.

"It's a milestone of the bank, representing the people's great benevolence and humanity to help save lives both at home and abroad," she said.

Joining the world's largest marrow-donor program in 2012, the bank has shared information about 800,000 volunteer donors with the program, aiming to pass the gift of life to the rest of the world, according to Hao.

Machteld Oudshoorn, chairwoman of the editorial board of Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide, said in a congratulatory letter that it is a major achievement for the Chinese bank to recruit two million donors.

"It has been saving many lives in China as well as elsewhere in the world," she said.

Bone-marrow transplants can treat a variety of blood diseases including leukemia and anemia, according to medical experts.

Given increased public awareness, "more and more people have joined the potential donor pool, including some foreigners living here," said Zhao Donghua, head of the bank.

About one million Chinese patients need bone marrow transplants each year and "demands from within the country are prioritized", she said.

The bank receives more than 8,000 requests a year on average from Chinese nationals, with 80 percent of them landing a match.

Zhao called on more volunteers to join the donor pool and stressed that it "won't do harm to donor health".

Compared with other countries, the percentage of donor volunteers in China remained low, she pointed out.

For instance, nearly 350 out of every 10,000 people in the US are registered as potential donors. But the figure is about 14 out of 10,000 on the Chinese mainland.

Chen Hu, a senior blood disease specialist, said China needs a very large pool of donors because the family planning policy makes it nearly impossible to land a match from siblings, he explained.

(China Daily 01/22/2015 page4)