Beijing: The first baby in China, and probably in the world, to have received blood through umbilical cord instead of bone marrow transplantation to combat a rare genetic defect is set to be discharged.
The baby received the umbilical blood stem cells on July 31 at the Children's Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai, when she was 6-months-old.
Yesterday, the hospital held a celebration for Zhao Jiaxin, now 10 and a half months old, ahead of her being discharged to go home in the next few days, state-run China Daily reported today.
"There's no report of umbilical cord blood being used for patients with inflammatory bowel disease with IL-10 RA defect, which the girl was diagnosed with, across the world so far," said Zhai Xiaowen, director of the hospital's haematology department.
"Most reports about the treatment of the disease have been through bone marrow transplantation," she said.
There are abundant blood-forming stem cells in umbilical cord blood, and doctors say they have proved valuable in treating immune deficiencies and malignant blood ailments.
Baby Zhao no longer needs to get her nutrition supply by injection, and can drink 60-milliliters of infant formula milk once every two hours.
"She's gaining weight from 2.7 kgs to 4.15 kgs and the frequency of her defecation has become normal. It's a miracle of life," said Huang Ying, director of the digestive health department of the hospital.
Zhao was born in Henan province on January 26. When she was one week old, she suffered severe diarrhea with fever, vomiting and inflammation. She was later diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease caused by a genetic defect.
The only remedy was umbilical cord blood stem cells to make up for the defects and control the disease and luckily the hospital found a blood match for her at the Shanghai Cord Blood Bank.
"Blood tests after the transplantation showed that 98.6 per cent of the stem cells transfused have been working and the originally defective genes have become normal. She also weathered the storm of rejection and complications," Huang said.
"The only thing we want to say is thanks, first to the medical teams from various departments of the hospital that helped our baby finally overcome the rare illness, and also to the hospital's social work department who raised more than 300,000 yuan (USD 47,160) to relieve our economic burden and make her salvation come true," said Ji Jianyuan, Zhao's mother.