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February 27, 2014

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Man fights the flab to be cell donor

A LOCAL man on Tuesday celebrated his 39th birthday by becoming Shanghai’s 294th hematopoietic stem cell donor after shedding 22 kilograms to meet the eligibility requirements.

Pan Weizhong, a team leader for Sinopec, joined the China Bone Marrow Bank in 2007 after one of his colleagues successfully donated his stem cells. Last October, Pan received a call from the Shanghai Red Cross Society telling him his blood was a match for a 28-year-old woman suffering from leukemia in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province.

“He was really excited when he found out and couldn’t wait to tell me when I came home from work,” Pan’s wife Wang Aiping, who works as an accountant at a community health care center, told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

“I was also very happy because I had always supported his decision to become a donor.”

But when Pan, who weighed about 90 kilograms at the time, went for a preliminary medical examination, doctors told him he had a fatty liver and needed to lose weight, Wang said.

Determined to qualify for the scheme, Pan switched to a vegetarian diet and began exercising for two hours every day. He even quit smoking and drinking alcohol, his wife said.

“My son and I also became vegetarians to support him,” she said.

After two months of no meat and lots of exercise, doctors gave Pan the green light.

After Tuesday’s operation Pan said he was delighted to have been able to help someone he had never even met.

“It feels great to celebrate my birthday by giving this woman a fresh start in life,” he said. “It’s the best present I’ve ever had.”

His 17-year-old son described his father as “my hero.”

Pan’s stem cells were collected on Tuesday and sent to a Wuhan hospital yesterday.

Wang said that Pan was quite weak after the surgery but was recovering well in hospital.

“I’m not worried about him‚“ she said. “He is doing well and should be discharged soon.”

Losing 22kg on the way to becoming China’s 4,007th hematopoietic stem cell donor was not the only obstacle Pan had to overcome.

When his mother-in-law found out about she tried to put him off, fearing the surgery would leave him unable to work.

To ease her concerns, Pan and Wang invited her to talk with a neighbor who donated his stem cells in 2007. He is in fine health and still works as a teacher.

Pan is the fifth employee of Sinopec Shanghai to successfully donate his stem cells, press officer Li Juan said. Officials from the company celebrated the achievement by presenting Pan with gifts and a birthday cake at his bedside.


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