Being given a cancer diagnosis is a terrible thing to go through, but having only three months to live unless a bone marrow donor is found is unthinkable.
One young woman in China is now facing the toughest fight in her short life after being diagnosed with leukemia and requiring a transplant. The 18-year-old’s father is a bone marrow match, but he has refused to show up for the medical procedure.
The woman, named Xinxin, was diagnosed three months ago and was given just months to live. To prevent the cancerous cells from spreading and to prolong Xinxin’s life as long as possible, she has been undergoing chemotherapy at Henan People’s Hospital in Zhengzhou.
Her cancer is a complicated case, and she has developed a rare condition. Her doctor, Dr. Bai Yanliang, Xinxin’s hematology specialist, claims she has both sarcoma and abnormal blood cells in her bone marrow.
Sarcoma is a second type of cancer where tumors grow on soft connective tissue, where leukemia is cancer of the blood.
Xinxin’s leukemia could be cured with a bone marrow transplant, significantly increasing her chances for long-term survival. Although Xinxin’s parents are divorced, her biological father had agreed to be her donor.
Xinxin’s mother carries the hepatitis B virus and is not a candidate for donation. Her brother has been deemed too underweight to go through with the procedure and wouldn’t be a suitable donor, either.
Bone marrow transplants generally need to come from an immediate family member so that the donor cells match with Xinxin’s, which prevents the body from rejecting the transplant.
Xinxin’s biological father, who is a 90% match, was her last hope, and he had initially agreed to save his daughter’s life. Everything was all set to go ahead, but he never showed up for the scheduled operation.
Xinxin’s stepfather is also not a suitable donor, but he has tried everything he can to find her biological father in an attempt to convince him to continue with the donation.
Her stepfather, who Xinxin calls Uncle Zhang, even traveled to North China’s Shanxi Province in an attempt to track down her biological father.
He told reporters: “I’ve watched Xinxin grow since she was five years old. She is a pretty girl, very optimistic,” uncle Zhang said. “But now she is receiving bone marrow puncture and doing blood test every day.”
Xinxin and her family can do nothing now but wait and hope her biological father comes to his senses. She really has no other options and needs him to go through with the donation in order to survive.
The donation procedure is simple. The donor is anesthetized and feels no pain while a large needle is used to extract only a small bit of marrow, usually from the hip area.
This extracted marrow regenerates completely, and while the donor may feel a little sore or tired, recovery is only two to seven days.
Her doctor estimates, that without a bone marrow transplant, Xinxin only has approximately three months to live. It was only a few months earlier that Xinxin had any indication that something was wrong with her health.
Xinxin takes part in military training, and she had collapsed while performing part of a training exercise. Her cancer has progressed so rapidly that within just six months from her collapse and initial diagnosis, she could be dead.
Let’s hope Xinxin’s father does the right thing and returns to save her life.
Occasionally non-family members can be bone marrow donors. This usually happens through the use of donation lists, where people are tested and registered in advance to be donors to complete strangers that they match with.