China donates first stem cells to Malaysia

Beijing, Dec 17 (IANS) A Chinese man has donated hemopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to a patient with blood disease in Malaysia, a media report said on Thursday.

Lu, 22, from Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region had signed up to be a stem cell donor with the China Marrow Donor Programme (CMDP) in July 2011, Xinhua news agency reported.

On May 19, the CMDP informed Lu that his human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type matched a Malaysian patient.

“I was surprised at the time but decided to do it,” Lu said.

The success rate of stem cells matches is extremely low — somewhere between 0.25 percent and 0.01 percent.

“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, 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.

There are over two million potential donors registered with the CMDP, putting China in fourth place worldwide, after the US, Germany and Brazil.

In 2006, a volunteer from Shanghai became China’s first stem cell donor and China has performed HSC transplants to over 5,000 patients at home and more than 200 overseas since. Malaysia is the 21st country to have received donations from the CMDP, which has uploaded HLA phenotype information on more than 820,000 volunteer donors to Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide.

Established in 1992, the CMDP has 31 provincial-level branches, 30 HLA typing labs, six HLA high-resolution confirmatory typing laboratories and one quality control lab. It works with more than 100 hospitals in China.

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