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China: Around The Nation

Chinese siblings save each other’s lives with bone marrow transplants eight years apart

Younger sister even appears to prophesies her own health problems while donating marrow to her brother in 2009

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 December, 2017, 3:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 December, 2017, 5:53pm

A man from eastern China last week donated bone marrow to his younger sister who is suffering from cancer, eight years after she did exactly the same for him.

Wang Ling, 52, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukaemia in May, Yangtse Evening News reported on Tuesday.

After being told by doctors that the only treatment was a bone marrow transplant, she turned to her brother, 55-year-old Wang Jiang.

In 2009, he had been diagnosed with severe aplastic anaemia, a rare disorder in which a person’s bone marrow fails to produce enough blood cells. While it is not a cancer, it can evolve into leukaemia, and is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease.

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The only remedy was a bone marrow transplant, which was provided by his sister after blood tests showed she was a suitable donor. After the operation Wang Jiang made a full recovery.

When Wang Ling was diagnosed with leukaemia earlier this year, doctors ran tests on her brother and found that 99 per cent of his bone marrow cells were identical to the ones he had received from his sister.

That made him a perfect match for a transplant, and the siblings once again went into the operating theatre together, this time to undergo a five-hour procedure.

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“She saved my life eight years ago. Now she’s ill and it’s my turn to save her,” Wang Jiang said.

Yang Yonggong, the doctor who carried out both operations, said that Wang Ling had almost prophesied the second transplant.

“Before going into theatre she told me, ‘please take more and make sure my bother has enough’,” he said.

Wang Ling remains under observation in hospital but should be able to go home in a few weeks, the doctor was quoted as saying.