Anhui stem cell donor offers hope for US boy

Anhui stem cell donor offers hope for US boy
Han Jin, a coal mine worker from Anhui province, donates blood containing stem cells at Navy General Hospital in Beijing on Thursday.
PHOTO: China Daily/ANN

A man from East China successfully donated peripheral blood stem cells on Thursday at a hospital in Beijing, and the stem cells were then sent to the United States to help save a young leukemia patient.

Han Jin, a 38-year-old coal mine worker from Suzhou, Anhui province, had 165 milliliters of blood containing the stem cells extracted from his body during an procedure that lasted for more than two hours on Thursday morning at Navy General Hospital.

The blood was then sent on a plane bound for the US in the afternoon so the stem cells could be transplanted into a boy there. Other details about the boy, such as his name, age and location, were not disclosed-a general practice to protect a patient's privacy.

"I am so glad to see that with a little of my blood I can save a child's life," Han said. "I wish to extend my best wishes to the child I don't know. I hope he will recover soon."

Zhu Peiyu, Han's doctor at Navy General Hospital, said it is rare for blood stem cells of people who are not related to match, and the chances are lower than one in tens of thousands.

"The boy is so lucky," she said.

Considering the child's age and weight, 100 milliliters of blood will be enough for him, Zhu said.

"We collected more than required in case of any risks that might happen during the transplant," she said.

A transplant of blood stem cells is considered to be the most effective way to treat serious blood diseases such as leukemia, she said.

Han said he has been donating blood twice a year since 2004. He said he registered in 2013 to be a voluntary blood stem cell donor at Suzhou's blood centre.

He said he received a call from a woman in June who said she was from the Anhui provincial Red Cross, and she asked whether he would like to donate blood stem cells, since his sample was matched to a patient in the US.

"I was very excited to hear the news and said I was sure that I would like to donate," he said. "I know it is not easy to get a match between a donor and a patient."

Qi Huijia, an official from the Red Cross in Suzhou who accompanied Han to Beijing for the donation, said Han is the first resident of Suzhou who has successfully been matched with a foreign patient and donated the stem cells.

By the end of 2013, the number of blood stem cell samples collected by the China Marrow Donor Program had reached 1.83 million, and 3,927 donors had given blood stem cells to help save others, including providing stem cells for 133 overseas patients, the society said.

Zhu, Han's doctor, said that in recent years she has seen more patients with serious blood diseases being saved because of increased donations.

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