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Donor girl lost as boy awaits cure

THE story of a young boy from a poor family whose mother brought him to Shanghai for treatment of a life-threatening disease was supposed to have a happy ending.

Needing a stem cell transplant, he found a match in his sister. Needing tens of thousands of yuan to finance the procedure, he found a benefactor.

But now his sister is missing. And the young girl and the fate of her brother are in jeopardy.

Jiang Yuelan, 10, who was supposed to donate blood and bone marrow today, has been missing from her temporary home in Shanghai's Pudong New Area since Tuesday.

Police have checked railway stations, neighborhood surveillance tapes, Internet cafes and put up posters urging the public to be on the lookout for the child.

"I don't know what is going on with her - whether she was kidnapped or ran away," the girl's mother, Zhou Lianying, told Shanghai Daily last night.

"She never complained about donating stem cells to her brother. But my landlord told me today that the girl had asked whether it is risky to do so and expressed fears about it."

Police theorize the girl may have run away on her own, but they said she probably can't go very far because she doesn't have any money.

The family comes from a small village in Guizhou Province and is part of China's Miao minority.

Last summer, Jiang's brother, four-year-old Jiang Shubao, was discovered to be suffering from aplastic anemia, a condition in which the bone marrow does not produce sufficient new cells to replenish all three types of blood cells. He was taken to Shanghai Children's Medical Center in October, where doctors suggested a stem cell transplant. The girl came in December for blood tests.

The sister was found to be a perfect match, and doctors said there was an 80 to 90 percent chance the transplant would be successful.

"Her brother was hospitalized on Wednesday, waiting for the stem cell transplant to save his life," Zhou said.

The mother found her daughter missing around noon on Tuesday. She had been left alone at home, while Zhou took Jiang Shubao to Xinhua Hospital for tests.

Jiang Shubao's doctor and officials at Shanghai Children's Medical Center said they were astonished to hear about the girl's disappearance.

"Everything had run smoothly before," hospital official Xia Lin said. "Doctors were confident about being able to cure the boy through a stem cell transplant, and Jiang Yuelan was such a good and brave girl."

She had even planned to auction off one of her paintings to raise money for her brother's treatment.

After Shanghai Daily published an account of the case late last month, a Singaporean national working in Shanghai visited the brother and sister and promised to donate 50,000 yuan (US$7,331) to help cover the shortfall the family was facing in paying its 100,000 yuan medical bill. The donor has asked to remain anonymous.

"We are all waiting for the girl to come back," Xia said. "The boy should be treated within one year, and the earlier the transplant the better the result."


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