Fri, May 30, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Patient's husband appeals for help on new Web site

INTERNET SOS Lee Yung-hsing was flooded with prayers and advice after his wife contracted SARS while she was working at Tri-Service General Hospital

CNA , TAIPEI

A man whose wife recently fell ill with SARS has set up a Web site to appeal for blood serum from ex-SARS patients to help his spouse combat the potentially deadly disease.

Lee Yung-hsing (李勇興) said he was battered mentally after seeing his 25-year-old wife when she appeared by the window of a quarantine room at the Tri-Service General Hospital. He said she looked beat and much thinner, several days after she was confirmed to have contracted SARS.

Lee's wife, a Tri-Service nurse, who is called "Hsiao-bao" (阿寶) by her husband and colleagues, had volunteered to take care of SARS patients at the military-run hospital earlier this month. She began to display SARS symptoms around May 15 and was place in quarantine soon afterwards.

After learning that his wife's condition was getting worse, Lee began to reel from fear. Feeling powerless to do anything to save her, Lee set up the Web site to seek help.

On the first day after setting up the Web site exclusively for "Hsiao-bao" May 17, Lee received numerous responses expressing blessings to his wife, encouraging him in his efforts and offering a kaleidoscopic of suggestions on SARS treatments, including a serovaccine treatment using the blood serum of ex-SARS patients.

Immediately after he posted the appeal for help from ex-SARS patients, Lee received many responses from people who had recovered from the disease.

One of those who responded was a woman known only as "Ms. Tsao, " considered to be an index SARS case in Taiwan. She was the first SARS patient at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital, which was sealed off after an in-hospital outbreak of SARS in late April.

Tsao and her husband, both cured but still in quarantine at Tri-Service, proceeded immediately to donate blood in a bid to help out "Hsiao-bao."

At about the same time, the hospital received approval from the Department of Health to conduct serotherapy clinical experiments.

In total, the couple has donated seven 250cc bags of blood over the last 10 days. Tsao's husband has blood type O, which can be processed into serovaccine to treat "Hsiao-bao, " who has blood type A. Meanwhile,. Tsao's blood is being used to treat other SARS-afflicted nurses at Tri-Service.

Hsiao-bao's condition has improved much in the days after receiving the serotherapy, but she is still under medical attention.

Encouraged by the case of "Hsiao-bao, " a businessman surnamed Chin, known as Taiwan's first SARS case, has decided to donate blood to contribute to the serotherapy efforts.

Meanwhile, a student surnamed Hsiao from Taipei's prestigious Chien Kuo High School (建國中學), whose name hit the front pages of for several days after he was nabbed for attending cram-school classes during his period of home quarantine, has also offered to donate blood to help "Hsiao-bao" and other SARS-afflicted health care personnel.

Both the student Hsiao and his mother, who is a nurse at Hoping Hospital, had developed full-blown SARS symptoms and had been put on intubation in critical condition. They have recently recovered from the disease.

Many other health-care personnel from Hoping Hospital who had contracted SARS but have since recovered have offered to donate blood to support the serotherapy efforts.

Some medical authorities, however, have expressed reservations about the treatment. As scientists are still in the dark about many characteristics of the unpredictable and slippery virus, the medical authorities have said serotherapy should only be used as a supplementary treatment option.

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