This young Chinese girl was desperate to put on weight so she could save her father’s life

She was the only person who could donate bone marrow to treat her father’s leukaemia, but first she had to pile on the pounds

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 March, 2018, 4:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 March, 2018, 6:03pm

An 11-year-old girl in southwest China spent weeks frantically eating so she could gain enough weight to donate bone marrow to her father, who is being treated for leukaemia.

The girl named Zhenzhen put on 4.5 kilograms (10lbs) in little more than a month, Chengdu Economic Daily reported on Thursday.

Following a series of tests, doctors are hopeful the transplant can go ahead next week.

Two years ago the girl’s father Luo Changming was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, an aggressive form of the cancer.

The family of three has spent over 200,000 yuan (US$31,600) on chemotherapy since then, but his condition showed little improvement.

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Early this year, doctors told Luo that the cancer had recurred, making a bone-marrow transplant his only hope.

Often the best donor for patients in his predicament will be a close relation, but Luo’s parents are too old to donate their bone marrow and his only sister did not match.

That left only 11-year-old Zhenzhen.

The girl’s mother, Luo Xiaolan, told Chengdu Economic Daily: “I asked her, ‘now you are the only one to save dad, do you want to save him?’ and she said, firmly, ‘yes, I am not afraid’.”

Doctors told the family Zhenzhen was the best match, but she was too light to donate bone marrow, weighing just 29 kilos – less than most girls her age.

Bone marrow donors have to be at least half as heavy as the recipient to ensure they are strong enough to endure the procedure.

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The report said that Zhenzhen used to be a picky eater, but had started eating as much as she could to get her weight up.

“Sometimes she told me that she didn’t want to eat any more, but I asked her, ‘do you want to save dad?’ then she would try to eat some more,” her mother said.

Within more than a month, Zhenzhen had got her weight up to 33.5 kilos and since her father had lost weight due to the condition, doctors decided that the procedure could go ahead.

Last week the doctors took blood two samples from Zhenzhen to harvest her bone marrow stem cells. Then on Monday her father was moved into a special room for pre-transplant therapy.

When she went to visit him in hospital she gave him a thumbs up. He responded from the other side of the window with an OK hand-gesture.