Bone Marrow Donation

Unable to watch patients with blood disorder suffering in silence, after affirming that bone marrow transfer can save lives without harming the donor, Dharma Master Cheng Yen started the Tzu Chi Marrow Donor Registry, which rename to Buddhist Tzu Chi Stem Cell Centre on 30 April 2002.

The Fighter Who Made It Happen
At a press conference on September 15, 1992, Wen Wen-Ling, a Taiwanese student studying in the United States, tearfully thanks the public for their enthusiasm and support. On October 15, 1992, Tzu Chi members in Los Angeles held a blood test drive to find a marrow donor for Ms. Wen.

She had developed leukemia, and a bone marrow transplant became her only hope for survival. However, none of her siblings had a compatible tissue type, so a non-relative donor had to be found. Unfortunately, there were no compatible donors in the US bone marrow data bank.

In Taiwan, there was a restriction that donated marrow had to come from a close relative such as one's parents, siblings, or first cousins. Ms. Wen returned to Taiwan and appealed for help. The legislature finally revised the regulations on body organ donation and removed the restrictions on the categories of donors.

In Canada, Tzu Chi volunteers cooperates with local Chinese community organizations and Canadian Blood Services to encourage people from age 17-35 to donate stem cells for those in needs.

Evidence of Abundant Love

Each marrow donation blood test drive attracts crowds of participants. Some who come too late leave their names and phone numbers so that they will be informed first for the next blood test drive. Some people come with their families, classmates or colleagues. Young couples squeeze in time before their weddings to give blood samples. Whole classes of college students come hoping to donate marrow for a stricken classmate. Families who have lost loved ones to blood disease want to help other victims. There are simply too many touching stories to tell. However, these stories are the best evidence that there is an abundance of love in Taiwan.

Fearlessly Showing Great Love

At a marrow donor registration drive in Kaohsiung on November 19, 1995, volunteers praise a young girl for her great love. Many people are terrified of hypodermic needles, but when they want to save other people's lives, they are willing to let the nurses stick the needles into their arms.

Some people have very tiny blood vessels, so they many be poked with the needles five or six times. Even tall, strong men may feel dizzy at the sight of blood. However, they still do not want to give up this opportunity to save others.

Celebration of New Life

"She was like the sun in my life and gave me hope." At a meeting between marrow donors and recipients, the 11th bone marrow recipient, Chen Yu-hsiang, and his mother thank donor Chen Yi-min for the gift of live.

Ms. Chen stated that she had just gotten married when the request came for her bone marrow, which she donated with her husband's encouragement. Three months later, she became pregnant. Now that she has a child, she can even more deeply appreciate the value of life.

According to international regulations, a recipient and a donor may only meet each other one year after the transplant. After the long period of expectation and waiting, the encounter between the two usually ends with embracing and weeping.The patient's hardships are transformed into exultation and gratitude.

International Donations

After bone marrow is extracted and sanitized, it must be kept at low temperature, taken in an ambulance to the airport, flown overseas, and then injected into the recipient. The whole process has to be done within 24 hours. Thus, timing is critically important and the process is extremely difficult.

The Tzu Chi Marrow Donor Registry now has cooperative agreements with counterparts in Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States and Australia. This has increased the international resources for leukemia patients. Now, blood disease patients need only apply to any one of the data banks, and the search for a match can be done internationally by computer. This simplifies the procedure, saves a lot of time in traveling, and greatly increases the probability of finding a compatible donor.