Stem cell donors reaches 3,000 mark - EDU

Stem cell donors reaches 3,000 mark

The number of hematopoietic stem cell donors in the Chinese mainland hit 3,000 on Friday, as the country saw a rapid increase in donors over the last four years, an official said.

Hong Junling, director of the China Marrow Donor Program, a nonprofit organization under the auspices of the Red Cross Society of China, said that 3,000 people have donated their blood cells to domestic and overseas patients through the program.

"It took 12 years for the CMDP to witness the growth of stem cell donors from the first case to the 1,000th case from 1996 to 2008, yet the number increased from 1,000 to 3,000 cases within the last four years," he said during a news conference on Friday.

Hematopoietic stem cells are routinely used to treat a series of blood diseases, including leukemia and anemia, according to a leaflet published by the program.

The organization, established in 1992, has become the world's fourth-largest databank of stem cells donors, ranking after the United States, Germany and Brazil, with more than 1.5 million candidate donors listed in its database, Hong said.

"The number of candidate donors who had their blood samples enlisted in the program is expected to reach 2 million in 2015,

The 3,000th donor was Ma Yahui, a 34-year-old woman from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, who had her blood extracted on Thursday at a hospital in Beijing. She received a certificate on Friday from the program with the number "3,000".

"I thought previously that donating stem cells is quite complicated, but I found out it is very simple after my blood was extracted yesterday," she said. "It's similar to donating blood."

The donated stem cells will be transplanted to a 2-year-old boy in South Korea who has leukemia, Ma said.
"I am a mother of a 4-year-old boy, and I felt deep sympathy toward the Korean baby patient," she said. "Saving the life of other people is not so difficult — what we should do is just reach out our arms and give a little blood to the patients."

Her blood with stem cells was given on Friday to Nah Jung-Hwa, a staff member of the Korean Marrow Donor Program, at the 307 Hospital of the PLA, where she had her blood extracted.

A total of 29 recipients in South Korea have received stem-cell donations from the program as of Friday, making that country the biggest recipient, said Hong, the CMDP official.

The CMDP joined the World Marrow Donor Association in July, with its database shared among other countries, after which the organization received more requests from international patients searching for matching stem cells, Hong said.

The organization has helped 105 Chinese people donate their stem cells to recipients of 10 overseas regions, including South Korea, Afghanistan, and the United States, Hong said.

Zhao Baige, executive vice-president of the Red Cross Society of China, said that China has made a great contribution to the international community with its stem-cell donations.

"There are a total of 20 million candidate stem cells donors enlisted worldwide, and China has more than 1.5 million, which is an important part," she said.

Li Yunong, a 16-year-old high school student in Beijing who received a stem-cell donation in 2006 to treat anemia, expressed his gratitude toward the blood donors.

"Thanks to the selfless donation, I can play football nowadays like the other healthy kids do on the playground," he said.

China has more than 1 million patients waiting for the transplant of stem cells, with an annual increase of more than 40,000 leukemia patients, according to the CMDP.

The rate for people who aren't related to match stem cells is 1 to 5,000, and as a result, the demand for stem cells is far beyond supply, according to the organization.

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