THE champagne flowed as organisers and sponsors of Operation Santa Claus '93 celebrated a successful campaign which managed to raise $4,394,380.02 in less than two months.
The public's generosity means that the Paediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the Prince of Wales Hospital will get $1 million to buy and run much-needed autology equipment.
This means that patients can have a transplant of their own marrow taken when it is free of disease.
Another $1.5 million will go to the Hong Kong Marrow Match Foundation to set up four specially equipped convalescent units to cover their rental and upkeep for three years.
The remaining money will allow the Marrow Match Foundation to add about 4,000 donors to its unrelated marrow donor registry to improve the chance of finding a donor for hundreds of people awaiting transplants.
At a ceremony at the Conrad Hotel yesterday vice-chairman of the Marrow Match Foundation, Dr Brian Hawkins, said: ''We have witnessed tremendous generosity and compassion in the people of Hong Kong and I can assure them that the funds will be used well and responsibly.'' The Governor's wife Lavender Patten, patron of the Marrow Match Foundation, was there to accept the cheque from campaign organisers RTHK Radio 3 and the South China Morning Post, represented by director of broadcasting Cheung Man-yee and editor David Armstrong.
Also there as living proof of what can be achieved with bone marrow donations was eight-year-old Choi Kit-chung.
On December 1 last year, he became the first Hong Kong patient to undergo a bone marrow transplant for a neuroblastoma - a solid tumour in the adrenal gland.
Head of English language programming on Radio 3, Jagjit Dillon, said: ''The main goals of Operation Santa Claus were to raise money for the charities and raise public awareness of their work, and the SCMP and Radio 3 have done a great job.'' Campaign organisers also took the opportunity to thank the sponsors, including Esprit, KPS Video, Toppy, Park Lane Shoppers Boulevard and Spa at the Square, for their contributions.
RTHK's Elaine Holt said: ''The response to the campaign has been tremendous and we only wrote the amount on the cheque about an hour before the ceremony as more donations kept coming in.''