TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Medical staff from Taiwan's Tzu Chi Hospital in April were able to complete an extremely difficult task of delivering donated bone marrow to a leukemia patient from Singapore at the Hualien Airport in the eastern part of the country.
According to the Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, a Singaporean patient in her 40s was urgently in need of a bone marrow transplant after having been diagnosed with acute leukemia of ambiguous lineage at the end of last year. Since the Singaporean hospitals were unable to locate a match for the patient, they decided to reach out to the Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center and were informed that a perfect donor had been found.
However, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has continued to escalate, both Taiwan and Singapore have imposed strict border controls as well as cancelled most non-essential flights, resulting in the delivery of the bone marrow donation being postponed.
Luckily, with the arrangement from the Hualien Airport, the medical professionals from both countries were able to carry out the difficult transporting process in less than an hour while adhering to the pandemic prevention guidelines set by Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). The airport director Wu Fu-Ho (吳富和) said this was also the first time in Taiwanese history that a bone marrow donation was transferred to overseas medical workers without them needing to pass immigration.
Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital Superintendent Lin Shinn-zong (林欣榮) emphasized that it is not easy for leukemia patients to find matches for bone marrow transplants. He added that the transplantation surgery has to be done in a timely manner in order for the patients to survive, reported Liberty Times.
According to ETtoday, Hualien County Health Bureau chief Chu Chia-hsiang (朱家祥) was also present at the rare medical exchange. Chu expressed gratitude to all personnel involved, including the medical workers and the Aviation Police Bureau, and said he was very touched by their teamwork in the life-saving mission.
Taiwanese medical worker holds container of donated bone marrow. (Tzu Chi Hospital photo)
Tzu Chi workers wave goodbye to Singaporean medical team. (Tzu Chi Hospital photo)