Canadian couple search for relatives of adopted Chinese girl with blood disorder

Greg and Cathy Crowell of Canada, with their adopted child Hosanna.
PHOTO: China Daily/ANN

Canadian foster parents search for abandoned child's family members

Local authorities in Southwest China's Guizhou province began a search on Friday for possible siblings of a girl who was abandoned about 10 years ago and was later adopted by a Canadian couple.

If they succeed, it means the girl will have a good chance of curing her disease through a bone-marrow transplant.

The girl, named Hosanna, was left alone on the doorsteps of Tianzhu county police station at dawn on May 6, 2007, according to the county's police department.

When they failed to find her parents, the police sent her to a local welfare house, where she was named Chen Fupei and given a presumed birthday that made her 1 year old.

Greg Crowell and Cathy Crowell, a couple who are now in their 50s and already had four children, adopted the pale-looking girl from the welfare house later that month, knowing that she had a disease.

They gave her a new name. "We called her 'Hosanna', which is Hebrew for 'saviour'," Cathy Crowell said.

They took her to Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, where pediatric doctors from Nanfang Hospital affiliated to Southern Medical University diagnosed her with severe beta thalassemia, a hereditary blood disorder resulting from the poor ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen.

Following doctors' advice, Hosanna has spent her life receiving blood transfusions every two to three weeks, as well as daily injections to remove excessive iron from the transfusions.

"Every night she needs to be given an injection," Cathy Crowell said. "It is all very difficult for her."

"Hosanna can survive with blood transfusions, but she will need them for her entire life," she added.

In the past decade, Hosanna, who will celebrate her 11th birthday this spring, has been living in Alberta, Canada, with the couple.

They have returned to the welfare house during that time, but have had no luck in finding her biological parents.

Doctors in China and Canada have told the couple that the only way to cure Hosanna is through a bone-marrow transplant, which requires a match that is most likely to be found in a sibling.

The couple recently posted an open letter online, announcing the search for relatives of the girl.

They offered to cover the cost of blood tests to find a match "because these people could possibly help Hosanna in a physical way that we will never be able to", Cathy Crowell said.

The letter caught the attention of the authorities in Tianzhu, who have pledged to assist the couple in their search.

Led by the local internet information office, a notice was made to spread Hosanna's story in the hope of tracking down a relative.

Copies of the notice were given out to local school heads, who were told to pass them on to students and parents.

While there have been no leads so far, the couple said they remain hopeful.

"We do not want to pressure them. They need our respect and we want them to come forward on their own. This is not easy for them," Cathy Crowell said.

Nevertheless, the couple have been introducing Hosanna to Chinese culture and she has been learning Mandarin for five years.

"We hope that one day she can help us visit China and be our interpreter," Cathy Crowell said.

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