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Donor girl ran in fear of her mom

WHEN 10-year-old Jiang Yuelan ran away from her temporary home in Shanghai's Pudong New Area last Tuesday, authorities thought the girl might have fled because she feared the pain of donating bone marrow to her sick brother.

The real reason was entirely unexpected. The girl, who was found after a 20-kilometer adventure that ended on Saturday, said she left because she had eaten noodles from her landlord's apartment without permission and feared her mother would punish her by making her stand all night.

Now that she has been safely reunited with her family, the Guizhou Province girl is scheduled to complete the transplant procedure on June 3.

Jiang accompanied her brother, five-year-old Jiang Shubao, to Shanghai Children's Medical Center yesterday, where he will receive the procedure to treat his aplastic anemia, a condition in which the bone marrow does not produce sufficient new blood cells.

Experts at the center gave the girl a psychological examination yesterday morning and explained the stem cell transplant process to remove any anxiety she may have.

"She behaved well as we asked her why she left home and whether she still wanted to donate stem cells to save her brother," said Xia Lin, a center official. "She said she was willing to go ahead with the transplant."

The boy, who was diagnosed with anemia last summer, came to the center in October, and doctors suggested a stem cell transplant. His sister, who followed in December, was found to be a perfect match.

The procedure was scheduled for last Saturday, but on Tuesday the girl went missing, and police began searching neighboring communities, believing she couldn't have gone very far. At the time, her mother also expressed fear that the child had been kidnapped.

Jiang Yuelan said the whole ordeal was over a bowl of noodles.

"I thought my mom would punish me and wouldn't let me sleep that night," she said. "She did that before."

The child said she had no money and walked alone in a random direction.

"I remember I saw the Nanpu Bridge on Tuesday," she said. "And on the second day, I started to see farmland."

The girl said she would sit for a while if she felt tired, and when she was hungry, she would stand at the door of a snack shop waiting for the owner to give her food.

"They thought I was a beggar and gave me some steamed bread," she said.

At night she slept without cover in grassy areas. Jiang said she thought of returning home, but at that point she was lost.

Her journey ended on Saturday when she met a Guizhou woman in Minhang District who took her to a police station.

Although the girl told Shanghai Daily she missed her family, especially her brother, Minhang police said she informed them she had been a beggar since she was five and had no parents. Officers recognized her from a photo distributed after she was reported missing.

Jiang's mother, Zhou Lianying, said that as a result of her daughter's actions, she would make an effort to treat her better in the future.

"The girl was raised by her grandmother in Guizhou from when she was one year old until she was seven," the mother told Shanghai Daily. "She was not close to me."

Zhou admitted she had punished her daughter by making her stand all night after she strayed into neighbors' homes.

"I didn't have the heart to beat her," she said. "And I also stayed up with her that night."


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