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Stem cell data bank requires more donors
Latest Updated by 2006-09-25 08:44:46
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A data bank which collects a type of stem cell that can help treat people suffering from serious diseases, such as cancer, is appealing for more donors.

An official from Guangdong Provincial Hematopoietic Stem Cell Donor Data Bank made the call on the sidelines of a ceremony over the weekend to mark a special event.

A donor at the data bank, named Li An, has become a Hematopoietic stem cell donor for a leukaemia patient in Singapore.

At the event, Chen Zechi, director of the data bank, said the centre still urgently needs local residents to become volunteers.

Hematopoietic stem cells are cells which have been isolated from blood or bone marrow that can renew themselves. Once taken out of a donor, they can be given to people with serious illnesses, such as leukaemia.

Li's Hematopoietic stem cells were taken to a Singaporean hospital to help a 21-year old leukaemia patient last Tuesday.

He was the first Hematopoietic stem cell donor to give to an overseas Chinese person since the data bank was opened in January this year.

Li, from Hunan Province, now works for a concrete firm in Huizhou, a city in Guangdong.

"The provincial bank has the data of merely 15,000 volunteers, only 3,000 of whom are Guangdong residents," Chen said.

"Guangdong has a very high incidence of leukaemia and thalassaemia. The data we have is small compared to the 300,000 leukaemia patients in the province," he said. "And many overseas Chinese are of Guangdong origin."

The matching probability for unrelated donors is between 1/10,000 and 1/100,000.

Chen said that the province aims to recruit 20,000 volunteers each year over the next five years and wants to set up smaller offices in 21 cities across Guangdong by the end of 2007.

The province will finish gathering and testing blood samples for 6,000 volunteers this year.

"Those aged from 18 to 35 and with fixed jobs and homes in the province are the main target," he said.

He added that the province is offering a one-year life insurance policy worth 350,000 yuan (US$43,157) to donors.

They and their family members will also be able to enjoy courtesy blood of between 800 to 1,000 millilitres if they need it in an operation as a reward for donating.

Sun Jing, director of Nanfang Hospital's blood department, said volunteers often go back on their promise to donate at the last minute because of unfounded fears about how donating will affect their health.

"Four volunteers backed out when they were asked to do bone marrow matching work for a leukaemia patient in my hospital," Sun said.

He said that Hematopoietic stem cells are strongly reproductive and so any donated cells will be replaced within one or two weeks.

"An authoritative foreign research institute once monitored the health situation of 100,000 Hematopoietic stem cell donors for 10 years, and none of them were found to be unhealthy due to the donation," Sun said.

Editor: Yan

By: Zhan Lisheng Source: China Daily Website
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