Father grateful for stem cell therapy that saved a son

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 - Page 3

A father of three boys thanked a doctor on Wednesday for successfully treating his two-year-old son, who was suffering from acute myeloid leukemia, through stem cell therapy using the umbilical cord of his newborn son.

The man, identified only by his surname, Chan (詹), held up the two-year-old and asked him to thank attending physician Wu Kang-hsi (巫康熙) at China Medical University Hospital in Greater Taichung.

Chan, a China-based Taiwanese businessman, said he put his business in China on hold after his second son was diagnosed with the rare form of leukemia that does not respond well to chemotherapy.

After a six-month-long wait for stem cell donors came to nothing, it was discovered that the stem cells of Chan’s eldest son, aged eight, matched those of his ailing sibling.

Then, in September last year, Chan’s wife gave birth to their third son, whose stem cells matched that of his ill brother.

Wu said this was unusual as there is only a one in 16 chance of brothers having matching stem cells, but luckily the family were able to use the newborn’s umbilical cord blood to treat their ailing son.

A bone marrow transplant surgery took place in November last year and the two-year-old has been recovering well.

Wu said acute myeloid leukemia, which affects white blood cells, is more common in adults and very rarely seen in young children.

Five out of every 100,000 Taiwanese are diagnosed with the disease, he said.