Tzu Chi campaigns for bone-marrow donors

China Post, Nov 17, 2008

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- National Taiwan University (NTU) celebrated its 80th anniversary yesterday with a campaign to recruit bone-marrow donors for victims of fatal illnesses such as tuberculosis or leukemia. Hundreds of students and alumni from Taiwan’s oldest higher educational institution came forward to register in the database of potential bone-marrow donors set up by Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation.

Bone-marrow, a soft, jelly-like tissue found in the hollow centers of certain bones, is home of what are called “stem cells” which are the building blocks of blood itself.

When the bone-marrow becomes damaged, medical experts point out that blood cannot be produced and the patient must receive a stem cell transplant to survive.

Amit Chang, 20, grimaced with pain when the nurse took a blood sample from the needle in her right arm, but stressed that she voluntary joined the program.

“When I told my parents about my plan to register as a potential bone-marrow donor they immediately opposed my decision,” she went on. “I know that they will eventually agree with the importance of being a donor.”

There are currently more than 310,000 potential donors registered in Tzu Chi’s database, indicated a spokesperson, who explained that Tzu Chi’s volunteers interviewed each candidate beforehand to have a better understanding of the donor’s medical condition and motives.

Tzu Chi Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Dharma Master Cheng Yen in the impoverished east coast of Taiwan, has been contributing to better social and community services, medical care, education and humanism in Taiwan for nearly 40 years.

Michael Chang, a dedicated Tzu Chi volunteer and chairman of Crystal Applied Technology Inc., successfully convinced 29 of his company’s employees to join in yesterday’s campaign.They travelled with their family from Hsinchu that morning to join in the campaign.

“They all volunteered!” Chang remarked.