Wednesday, August 5

China donates first stem cells to Malaysia

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NANNING: A Chinese man has donated hemopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to a patient with blood disease in Malaysia, reports Xinhua news agency.

Lu, 22, from south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, signed up to be a stem cell donor with the China Marrow Donor Programme (CMDP) in July, 2011. On May 19, the CMDP contacted Lu and told him that his human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type matched a Malaysian patient.

“I was surprised at the time but decided to do it,” Lu said, recalling that one of his primary school classmates died of leukemia. The success rate of stem cells matches is extremely low — somewhere between 0.25 per cent and 0.01 per cent.

“I’ve done some research and know stem cell donation is almost harmless to the donor,” he said. “Saving a life is more important than anything else.

A week before the donation, Lu arrived in Guangzhou, capital of neighbouring Guangdong Province, to receive daily injections of bone marrow mobiliser, stimulating the release of stem cells into the blood.

He was then hooked up to an apheresis machine that filters blood and collects stem cells. A total of 420 millilitres of stem cell suspension were flown to Malaysia and injected into the patient on Tuesday.

“The process was easier and less painful than I expected,” Lu said. “I hope the friend in Malaysia gets well soon.

There are over two million potential donors registered with the CMDP, putting China in fourth worldwide, after the United States, Germany and Brazil. — Bernama