Four Hong Kong leukaemia patients whose plight has become critical after the failure of a global search to find them bone marrow donors will become the focus of an appeal this weekend. The Hong Kong Marrow Match Foundation will be highlighting their cases at the New Town Plaza shopping centre, in Sha Tin, tomorrow and Sunday. It hopes to attract 3,000 people to the event in a desperate bid to find a match for the patients, the youngest of whom is 14 years old. Vice-president Brian Hawkins said: 'Normally we focus on one patient and the patient usually is a young child. But what we wanted to do this year is focus on the fact that it is not just children who are in need and desperate for donors. Blood cancer and leukaemia can strike people of any age. 'I think it is very rare for there to be somebody in the world who is completely unmatchable. The problem is finding a marrow. In all of these cases we have looked all around the world [in vain].' The four patients are Mabel Tam, a 28-year-old former Cathay Pacific reservation officer; So Lai-wing, a 47-year-old former hotel executive; Leung Heung-wah, a 26-year-old customer service officer for an air-freight company; and Tam Chak-lam, a 14-year-old secondary school student. Tam Chak-lam suffers from chronic myeloid leukaemia, while the other three have acute myeloid leukaemia. The Hong Kong Marrow Match Foundation, which runs Hong Kong's registry, has 43,889 donors. This compares to the mainland's marrow bank, which has 50,000 members. Plans were announced last month to build the world's largest marrow bank for Chinese on the mainland over the next seven years. Dr Hawkins said the plight of the teenage boy was particularly frustrating. Preliminary matches in Austria, Greece, America, Cyprus, Italy, South Africa and Germany had indicated some potential donors, he said, but none was close enough. From January to September last year, the foundation attracted only 670 marrow donors, compared to 8,301 donors in 2001 in response to an appeal to help music teacher Janice Tang Wai-yi, who died from acute leukaemia without finding a match. Dr Hawkins added that the foundation also needed people to donate money. 'As doctors do more and more transplants . . . it is going to increase the pressure on our foundation. We just do not have the funding behind it now to guarantee an existence way into the future,' he said. About 70 Hong Kong patients are referred each year to the foundation, which also receives 150 requests from overseas to find a marrow match, he said. Established in 1991, the foundation spends $500 to test the tissue type of donors, while each marrow transplant could cost up to $246,000. Anyone interested in the appeal should contact the foundation on 2819 0766.