Man to donate stem cells to British child

Jan 6, 2015

Jiang Yongfeng

A LOCAL man will travel to Beijing on Thursday to donate stem cells that might save the life of a 7-year-old British boy suffering from leukemia.

Jiang Yongfeng, 35, will be the 11th person from Shanghai to donate stem cells for an overseas patient and the first to donate to a British citizen. The collection procedure is scheduled to take place next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Under Chinese law, all stem cells donated for use by overseas patients, including those in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, must be collected in Beijing, said Zhang Yi, an official with the Shanghai branch of the Red Cross Society of China, which manages the China Marrow Donor Program.

Once Jiang's cells have been harvested they will be passed to a representative from the British hospital, Zhang said.

Under standard Red Cross procedure the identities of both the donor and recipient are kept private, Zhang said.

However, Jiang, a driver for the Jinshan District Finance Bureau, was happy to waive that right on local television.

He told reporters he was excited about his trip to Beijing, as it was a chance to save a child's life. He said he has no desire, however, to meet the British boy, who is of Asian origin.

"Usually, the two parties don't meet. But if both sides express a desire to do so, the Red Cross can help to facilitate that, but only after two years have passed and the transplant is deemed a success," Zhang said.

The chances of success are increased if the recipient and donor are from the same ethnic background, he said.

Jiang has been part of the donor program since March 2013 and was identified as a match for the British child last November.

"The matching process was carried out in Beijing, but as soon as we were told they had found a match in Shanghai, we contacted Jiang," Zhang said.

"My wife and son both support me, but I had to spend quite a lot of time convincing our parents, who were worried about my health," Jiang said.

Following on from Jiang's charitable act, a 29-year-old native of Anhui Province who works in Shanghai is expected later this month to become the 12th local person to donate stem cells for a patient from the United States.