CHILDREN with bone cancer can be spared the agony of having a limb amputated, thanks to a new 'bone donor' technique being used at Prince of Wales Hospital. The limb salvage operation replaces defective bones with organ donors' bone sections that are stored in the bone bank. But Professor Leung Ping-chung, a surgeon at the Prince of Wales Hospital, said the bone bank was in desperate need of fresh bones - those removed from donors within six hours of death. 'Last year there were only two dozen organ donors who donated kidneys. And among them, only one-fifth of them donated bones,' he said. 'They - or their relatives - were afraid that taking out their bones would affect the shape of the corpse. 'We're now forced to take bones from people who have died in emergencies, but can only do so 48 hours after death, because the necessary post mortem process takes time. But these bones are less effective because we can't use the ligaments that are attached to them,' Professor Leung said. Bone cancer patients whose limbs are amputated were likely to live just a year after the operation, but almost half of the recipients of donated bones could survive another five years, doctors said. Under the hospital's 'no amputations' policy, 44 patients, mainly children and teenagers, have undergone the limb salvage operation. Kwan Chi-yui, 12, has a donor bone inserted into his right thigh, after being diagnosed with bone cancer three years ago. 'I don't like having a stranger's bone inside my body, but I'm still happy that my leg is not cut off,' Chi-yui said. 'Now I can still use my own legs to walk, and I won't even have to use walking sticks later,' he said. Another patient Nam Wing-lun, 14, said he was initially terrified at the thought of having his arm cut off, when his cancer was diagnosed last year. Instead, doctors have taken a section of bone from his leg and used it to replace a defective arm-bone. 'I felt like I was in a dream at first; I couldn't believe I was someone who had cancer. I was afraid that I couldn't play volleyball anymore. 'But I feel happier after the operation - I can now write and lift light things, though I still can't hold my chopsticks properly.' Nam plans to go back to school in September and is confident he can catch up with his classmates. 'I'm now much stronger than before and have learned to live happily,' Nam said. Flora Lam Sim-chu, the mother of four-year-old cancer patient Angia Lam Hiu-yee, said the limb salvage operation was good for bone cancer patients and their families. 'Patients can now keep their limbs and won't feel they are being discriminated against ,' she said. by other people; it's also comforting for their family members to see that,' she said. Professor Leung said: 'The 'no amputation' policy is the best psychological support for the patients and we will try our best to extend this kind of surgical technology to other hospitals in Hong Kong.' More than $1 million will be spent to upgrade the bone bank. A new cancer centre, Sir Yue-kong Pao Centre, opened last week to provide comprehensive treatment to cancer patients.