Donors and Receivers of Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center Met with Joy

Written by Yu-Yun Chi, Chin-Hsiang Chen, Hsiou-Duan Song, Chun-Wei Lai, Wei-Yun Peng, and Hana You


Donating bone marrow stem cells to those who are not blood related is the greatest love to all, like clear water. All of a sudden, it has been 18 years that Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center passes the love of clear water to save lives…


“Because you and I, the world is touched by love…” Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center celebrates its 18th anniversary on October 15 and 16, 2011, With the background music, “Because of you and I,”the donors and receivers met with joy, and the certifying event for the caring section instructors began. Dr. Chin-Lon Lin, CEO of Tzu Chi Medical Mission, Reuy-Ho Kao, Superintendent of Hualien Tzu Chi Medical Center, Kuo-Liang Yang, Director of Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center and others pay their tribute to all donors and volunteers. There are 117 donors, receivers, and family members and over 500 volunteers, total over 700 people, all got together. CEO Lin presented plaques to 85 donors of the year 2011.


Tzu Chi volunteers play “Because of you, because of me”, connecting the donors and receivers’ heart.


“Meet-Up” Party Finally Held Again After Five Years

The Caring Group and donors performed a play together. The play showed the volunteers’ hard work from canvassing donors to accompanying others and their unstoppable spirits for saving life. These are stories which touch people. Superintendent Kao of Hualien Tzu Chi Medical Center came 18 years ago to serve. He shared the story when he guarded a patient of hematology and oncology. He also praised the volunteers as people with compassion. Many donors became Tzu Chi volunteers and joined caring volunteers. They also encourage receivers to join the service to serve others.

Secretary-General Nai-Yu Chen of Tzu Chi Stem Cells Donation Caring Group said that there is 340,000 volunteers’ information in Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center’s data bank; over 2,600 transplant cases at the end of September 2011, patients of 28 nations received the benefit; and there are over 300 donors each year. They work on saving life almost daily.

Everyone at the event, whether they know each other or not, all had a smile with tears from being moved.

According to Nai-Yu Chen, it’s been five years since last time this “Meet-Up” event was hosted, almost all receivers wished to meet the donors who gave them the second chance to live. However, due to the international practice, the receivers are disappointed. This year is a small meet and greet event. The receivers had been treated for over five years. The greatest wish of donors is the receivers to regain their health. Therefore, the meet-and –greet does not have gifts but thanks and blessings.


“Bone marrow theater” played by the caring group and donors showed the story from volunteers requesting donation to accompany donors during donation.


CEO Chin-Lon Lin gratefully shared the history of Tzu Chi Bone Marrow Data Bank. Prior to the Immune Gene Lab was established, all blood samples had to be sent to the U.S. to test for HLA. Each blood sample cost 80 USD. We now have 340,000 cases, you can image the fund needed for testing. Therefore, we are grateful for the help of the Master and Tzu Chi members. Now, Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center is the eighth largest bone marrow data bank. We are more thankful to the donors participating bone marrow data bank’s blood sample testing. Because of the donors’ compassion, they not only saved the patients’ lives, but also their families.


Even in a Dream, I Would Agree to Help

“Thank you for giving me the second chance of life. If not for you, I will not be here.” Hsiaodong (alias) hugged Mr. Song with his father and brother.

Hsiaodong got sick when he was at sixth grade. His older brother was seventh grade at the time, and the younger brother was fifth grade. They could not donate bone marrow to him because they did not match. Hsiaodong could only seek none-related match. Mr. Lin said with tears in his eyes that he felt helpless when the child was sick. He was between hospital, home, and work for a long time. Especially when facing the pressure of time and the shadow of death. His hear ached for the fear that the child dealt with. Luckily, the volunteers of the caring group often came to the hospital and home encouraging them and accompanied to pass the most difficult time.


Tzu Chi Bone Marrow Donation Event and Caring Group’s Secretary General, Nai-Yu Chen, reports the recent achievement of the center.


“If I can help, I will. There is no need for more words.” Mr. Song who donated bone marrow to Hsiaodong joined the blood test activity in 2001 after watching the Great Love Theater. Three days prior to receiving the matching success notification, he dreamed an adult came to see him with a child. The child asked, “He is not related to us, why are we visiting him?” The adult said, “He is going to save someone, so we are here to ask for his help.” Prior to further blood test, he dreamed a grandmother and a mother kneeling in front of his bed. He asked, “What do you want?” The mother said, “To trouble you saving someone.” In the dream, he answered, “What must be done will be done, especially the right thing.”

Mr. Song came to Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital with a simple believe, hoping to help a life, Hsiaodong, who was lingering between life and death, thanked Mr. Song’s selfless love.


After Ten Years, Donor & Receiver Met as Sister & Brother

“I thought my life would end when I was 29, but thanks to this person, a miracle happened again…” When A-Ya (alias) was 23, she had fever and diarrhea symptoms. She thought it was just a cold, but the doctor diagnose that she had aplastic anemia.

After six years of medicine and blood transfer treatment, her boyfriend married her under his family’s objection. Four months after the wedding, the doctor notified A-Ya that she could no longer use blood transfer as treatment, and she must receive bone marrow transplant soon because that was her only chance to get well.


Photo1: CEO Chin-Lon Lin(left) of Tzu Chi Medical Mission presents plaques to year 2011’s 85 donors.

Photo2: Hsiaodong, who was seeking non-relative match, was lucky to find Mr. Song. Hsiaodong’s family and Mr. Song(right) hug each other.


“When I saw those three bags of bone marrow of donors arrived the ward, I was excited and nervous.” A-Ya’s husband recalled the time when he was with his wife getting bone marrow transplant. He looked at bone marrow dripping through the tube into his wife. His worry showed on his face. He witnessed his wife’s pain when she was doing the spinal tap test. Therefore, he is moved by the compassion of the donor. A-Ya shared her story with tear, recalling the time when she fought for her life. Every time when the doctor had to take 3 c.c. bone marrow liquid, she was in great pain; not mention the pain the donor had to go through. No word can express her gratefulness.

(Note: The location when taking donor’s bone barrow is different from spinal tap. It is using the size of the center of a pencil needle to take bone marrow stem cell from the lilac of the pelvis of the hips.)

A-Ya’s recovery is good. In the past nine years, she and her husband wish to thank the person who saved her life. Mr. Li, who lives in Hsinchu, also wondered about the receiver, “is it a little boy? I wondered if I would meet someone look like me, as if we were brothers.” After meeting with A-ya, they do look like brother and sister. Mr. Li said, “Ten years of fate due to bone marrow, now I finally can realize this wish.”


A-Ya met her donor, Mr. Li. At the time Mr. Li was still single, now he not only has a happy family, his two children gained an aunt.


At the time Mr. Li participated blood test event was when he was studying at Donghwa University. He was still single at the time. Four years later, he received Tzu Chi Bone Marrow Data Bank’s notification, he was so happy and joked, “I got a round trip ticket to Hualien.” His wife and two sons came with him. He is happy that his children now has an aunt since he does not have sisters. Seeing A-Ya being so healthy, Mr. Li is more firm on his believe in saving others.


Meiling, whose arms and legs are now harden, not only kneeled to express thanks, but also give a painting “the love of clear water” thanking the donor to save her life twice.


“It’s good to be alive. I am grateful to have you.” Meiling (alias) slowly kneeled strenuously with her shaking legs, using the most respectful manner, she expressed her most sincere thanks. In 2002, Meiling had acute myelogenous leukemia, and received the bone marrow stem cell donation. Although the complication of sclerosis occurred, she insisted coming to Hualien Jing Si Hall with reduced mobility to thank the donor, Mr. Gao in person.

At age 37, Meiling went to a doctor due to tonsil purulent. Later, it was confirmed to be acute myelogenous leukemia. Recalling the experience of chemical treatment and transplant, Meiling used “extreme misery” and “spare no pain” to describe her experience. She said, at the time, she felt as if she was walking naked on ice when she had the chill. When she was hot, it felt as if she was burning in the stove. She suffered from lack of oxygen; none stop nose bleeding due to platelet dysfunction, and serious vomiting with blood and bile.

She lost the strength to laugh and forgot the feeling of crying at the end. Her husband who stands by her side though all these lost a lot weight because he was worried Meiling’s illness. Meiling’s mother got sick because she had been caring for Meiling for a long time. When sharing her experience, Meiling could not help but cried. Her oldest son has congenital heart disease. Her youngest son was in kindergarten at the time. The family does not know how to deal with tomorrow due to the illness.

“Since our bone marrow is so useful, we should share with others.” In 1998, Mr. Gao was in the military stationed in Penghu. The Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center’s volunteers had a blood test event on the base. Mr. Gao and friends all participated. Four years later, Mr. Gao received the call regarding a match. He agreed with no hesitation. Mr. Gao said that his father was also one of the members registered in bone marrow donation data bank, but he is over the maximum age to be a donor. When Mr. Gao’s father found out that his son has the chance to complete his dream to donate bone marrow, the entire family supported and encouraged Mr. Gao. On the day of donating bone marrow, Mr. Gao’s parents accompanied him as the recorder, so they could observe bone marrow donation and share the experience with family and friends; and be the witness of “donating bone marrow to save others will hurt oneself.”

“I was like the candle in the wind at the time, if the light went off, I would regret not having the chance to thank the one who saved me myself.” After nine years of waiting, Meiling finally met the donor. Meiling said she prayed for the donor everyday when she found out that there was a match for her. “I am thankful to have the chance to accompany my children to grow. I am very happy.” Receiving bone marrow transplant, Meiling not only received life once again, she is now a volunteer in school. To thank her donor, she painted a picture for him. Meiling said that during treatment after transplant, her life-saver once again donate bone marrow to her without hesitation. “I can finally tell the life-saver myself, “I am grateful for you.”” Metling brought the painting representing “the love of clear water” and gave a big hug to express her thanks to the donor, Mr. Gao.


Withheld the Pain of Lost, Help Someone Fighting for Life

“I never thought that losing my father could get a life miracle in exchange. It is truly amazing.” When Mr. Chang received the news of a successful matching, his father was in the hospital due to cancer, his mother was at ICU, and his child was having a fever. Although he was concerned about his parents, Mr. Chang still agreed to do his best helping someone who needs him.

“Thank you for giving my child back.” Yu-Fan(alias) came to Hualien with her parents and two younger sisters. It was then at the event, she found out Mr. Chang agreed to donate bone marrow during his most difficult time. She could not help but cried. Yu-Fan of Yilan became ill when she was in third grade. Since it was chronic leukemia, they started treatment with chemotherapy but her situation was getting worse. By the time she was in fifth grade, her only chance was bone marrow transplant. However, it was not an easy task finding a match for her. Yu-Fan’s mother said that after the seventh match, the doctor told the family to prepare for the worse. Her daughter’s dream was to go to Disney World. As they decided to complete her daughter’s wish of “last trip”, they found out that there was a match for donor from Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center.

Mr. Chang talked about the process of donating with humorous tone. He said that when he was getting ready to go to Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, it was during the time he was mourning for his father. He might miss his father memorial service and funeral. He thought about the life somewhere in the world is waiting for his bone marrow to save it. Not only his friends and family, but himself wondered if he would regret not able to participate in funeral and memorial service. Finally, Mr. Chang decided to ask his father using the traditional service on the day of the memorial service. To his surprise, he got an “approval” sign. With his father’s blessing, he came to Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital.


Yu-Fan’s father bowed to thank Mr. Chang when he found out Mr. Chang decided to donate bone marrow during mourning for his father. He thanks Mr. Chang saving his daughter’s life.


“Is the brother accompanied me here? I want to say, “sorry!”” Mr. Chang said that due to the fact there were a lot things to take care after his father’s death, he did not have enough sleep for days. After complete the bone marrow donation in Hualian Tzu Chi Hospital, he slept two days. The brothers accompanied him were so worried and they were about to request the medical team to come over. Mr. Chang has been thinking about this incident and want to thank and share those Tzu Chi volunteers’ kindness; and to explain that he was not ill but because the hospital bed was so comfortable that he slept two days. He felt bad to make them worried.

Yu-Fan’s father held Mr. Chang’s hand tidily and gave a 90 degrees bowed to Mr. Chang. Yu-Fan stood aside, looking at this benefactor whom she never met before; she could not stop her tears. Yu-Fan said that this year, she registered the college entrance exam, hoping to major in Social Work. She wishes to use this new life and experience to help those in need.


When There Is a Wish, There Is the Strength

“When I heard this, we cried.” HsiaoWei(alias) was three when he had a fever for a week and blood spots were all over his body. His parents were so scared and took him to Kuanshan Tzu Chi Hospital. After blood test, it was confirmed that he had acute myelogenous leukemia. The doctor transferred him to Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital.

“It was a torture waiting for the right match. The donor is Hsiao-Wei’s parents of reborn.” Within two weeks, HsiaoWei had a successful match. The donor who lives in the South was also the first completed peripheral blood stem cell donation at Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital. Hsiao-Wei s mother said that the companied volunteer encouraged them that “the greater the wish, the greater the strength” and told them to pray for their son daily for finding perfect match soon. They are happy and verified that when there is a wish, there is the strength.

“Is that bone marrow? Is it the bone marrow that will save Hsiao-Wei’s life?” Such a small bag of blood has such great hope in it. Because the donor works for the government and could not get the day off to participate, Hsiao-Wei and family still came from Kuanshan to attend this event, thanking all medical team members and the donor for their scarifies. They gave the flower to CEO Chin-Lon Lin who was Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital president at the time.


The Love of Clear Water Across the World

The love of bone marrow donors has crossed the wall of people and nations. Huihui (alias) of Singapore came to Hualien with her parents. She got sick in the U.S. At the time, her father applied for match in Singapore and the U.S. for matched bone marrow. Since Huihui’s grandmother is a Taiwanese, they also seek match with Tzu Chi. They found the match with Tzu Chi. When it was time to obtain the bone marrow, there was a snow storm in the U.S. They were so worried that they might not be able to get it on time and was about to hire private jet to come. Luckily, after Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center contacted the bone marrow bank of the U.S., the bone marrow bank of the U.S. sent someone over to pick it up. The process was very smooth.


The donor cannot attend the “meet-and greet” due to work, Hsiao-Wei wrote a card asking the team to give it to him. She then gave the flower to CEO Lin to thank the volunteers and the medical team.


Every year, Huihui’s father asks The Center if there was a chance for MeetUp party. Today, the father and daughter came to Taiwan for the first time. After long time trafficking, they arrived Hualien Jing Si Hall to thank the donor in person for giving Huihui the chance to be able to grow healthly. Huihui is going to be a freshman in college next year. She does not speak Chinese well, and used English to express her gratefulness. When the donor, Mr. Lin, appeared in front of her, Huihui’s tears kept dropping. “We have been waiting for this moment for years,” said Huihui’s father. “The bone marrow donor is very wonderful. Tzu Chi is very wonderful.” Maybe it’s because he had heard so many stories of conversations of life, donor Mr. Lin was so excited that he almost could not speak when he was on the stage. After a moment, he then chokingly said, “I did not thing it is a big deal donating bone marrow, until I became a father this year. I began to have special feelings about life.” Seeing Huihui has a new life because of him, Mr. Lin is full of gratefulness and blessing. The guest of honors and volunteers were also moved and cried.


Huihui (second to left) of Singapore could not stop her tears when she saw her donor, Mr. Lin(second from right). After bone marrow transplant, she began to like art that Mr. Lin happened to be an art teacher.


Huihui used to love diving and sport became to love arts after the bone marrow stem cell transplant. She is going to study art in college. She often wondered that it might have something to do with the donor’s gene that she became to like arts even though she could not draw when she was little. To her surprise, when she asked Mr. Lin about it, she found out that Mr. Lin loves painting and creating since he was young. Although he now took over the family business, but he still uses his free time at night teaching art.

In the world full of people, two people who are not blood related, the chance of matching bone marrow is only one out of ten thousand. Each “conversation between lives” does not mean it’s the end out the story. It represents the love like water will continue. It has been 18 years since Tzu Chi began promoting “donating bone marrow saving others will not hurt oneself.” While saving life and creating the miracle of love, Tzu Chi is hoping to building a bridge with love and sincere to gather more love form people, bring out more kindness and love, and make a circle of love all around the world.


Donors, receivers and family, total of 117 and over 500 volunteers celebrated the Tzu Chi Stem Cells' 18th armiversary.