Hong Kong Med J 2009;15(Suppl 3):S48-51
Unrelated haematopoietic stem cell transplantation in Taiwan and beyond
KL Yang, CY Chang, S Lin, MH Shyr, PY Lin
Buddhist Tzu Chi Marrow Donor Registry, Buddhist Tzu Chi Stem Cells Centre, Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Center, Hualien, Taiwan
Since its inception in October 1993, the world-renowned Buddhist Tzu Chi Marrow Donor Registry has facilitated more than 1800 cases of stem cell donations for patients in 27 countries to date. Under the auspices of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center (BTCSCC), the Registry (>310 000 donors) offers, on average, one case of stem cell donation every day to national or international transplantation community. The accomplishment of the Registry stems from the philosophy and spirit of giving without reward that was inspired by its founder Dharma Master Cheng Yen, the Samaritan devotions of selfless voluntary stem cell donors and the efforts from a dedicated network of volunteer workers. Demographically speaking, slightly less than one third of the donations are provided to domestic patients and the rest to mainland China and countries in Asia, North America, Europe, Middle East, Oceania, and South Africa. While most of the patients belong to the Oriental ethnic group, a few of the patients are non-Oriental. In addition to the Registry, a non-profit umbilical cord blood (UCB) bank is operating since 2002 to provide a complimentary role for patients unable to identify appropriate bone marrow stem cell donors in the Registry in time. To date, with an inventory of over 12 000 units of UCB cryopreserved in the Tzu Chi Cord Blood Bank, 47 units have been employed in 37 cases of transplantation for both paediatric and adult patients domestically and internationally. The fact that Buddhist Tzu Chi Marrow Donor Registry and Cord Blood Bank are established and operating without governmental financial support is unique and special. To facilitate haematopoietic stem cells to its domestic patients experiencing financial burdens, the BTCSCC offers financial aids to the underprivileged for their medical relief. This humanitarian approach and compassion is definitely a role model for many countries in the world.