Upgrade of Queen Mary Hospital bone marrow transplant facilities
Hospital to do more marrow transplants
Queen Mary Hospital could help 30 more leukaemia patients who need bone marrow transplants each year after expanding its stem cell centre.
The centre can now treat about 140 patients a year, although the public hospital receives an average of nearly 200 referrals annually.
There are no private facilities offering bone marrow transplants in Hong Kong.
The expansion means the hospital now boasts the largest centre for studying haematopoietic stem cells - the blood cells that produce others - in the city, employing 10 full-time staff. It plans to hire three more technicians by the end of the year to assist with patient DNA analysis.
Leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow, characterised by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells which disrupt the normal balance of cells in the blood. It is treatable using methods such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone treatments or bone marrow transplants.
"A bone marrow transplant involves a really complex procedure to mobilise enough blood stem cells for transplant, which we invented at Queen Mary. We are passing the techniques to other public hospitals to help more patients," said Professor Kwong Yok-lam, chair of haematology at the University of Hong Kong's department of medicine.
Six other public hospitals offer bone marrow transplants to about 15 patients each a year, but they are limited to self-donors and do not take other donations.