Life-saving Christmas present

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 December, 1999, 12:00am

I have been very interested in articles in the South China Morning Post and Sunday Morning Post as well as letters to these columns, regarding the urgent need for Eurasian bone marrow donors to help save the lives of the Chan twins in England.

Today is the first anniversary of the death of Joshua Gillespie-Wong, who passed away at the age of 4.5 after a nearly three-year battle with leukaemia.

When Josh was first diagnosed, the community of the German Swiss International School held a sponsored walk to raise funds for Josh's treatment.

As it was clear early on that a matched donor would be the ideal treatment, and as Josh was also Eurasian, he faced the same challenges now being faced by the Chan family.

The Walk for Joshua Fund organised a Eurasian Bone Marrow Drive on October 5, 1996, and donated $100,000 of its funds to the Hong Kong Marrow Match Foundation to assist in the setting up of a specifically Eurasian registry. At the time, we were told it was the only such registry worldwide and though it was unable to find a donor match in time for Josh, we have heard that donor matches were found through the registry to help patients in Australia, Europe and the US.

I hope that the publication of these families' anguish motivates more Eurasian people to join their local bone marrow registry, here or abroad.

It is a simple blood test to register, but it does mean a difference between life and death for patients young and old around the world.

It would be the best Christmas present these people ever receive.

CAROL UNDERWOOD The Walk for Joshua Fund