Boy donor who saved dad may get dream trip

BEIJING • A Chinese boy who hit the headlines for donating bone marrow to his dying father could soon be holidaying in Australia - with help from strangers moved by his story.

Eight-year-old Cao Yinpeng was hailed as a hero in July after he gained 10kg in two months in order to donate bone marrow to his father, Mr Cao Lei, who was suffering from leukaemia and was told he had only six months to live.

When Mr Cao, 35, was first diagnosed in January, the family had to cancel their holiday Down Under, China Daily reported.

Madam Zhang Lin, the boy's mother, said the family was also forced to sell their apartment and now share a home with her parents and in-laws.

However, thanks to donations from generous well-wishers, the family is back on its feet.

More than 5,300 people have donated almost 200,000 yuan (S$41,000) since Mr Cao underwent a hematopoietic stem cell transplant at the Affiliated Hospital of Xuzhou Medical University on July 6.

"Many strangers visited the hospital to see us, bringing us fruit and flowers," China Daily quoted Madam Zhang as saying. "They've given me the strength to face this difficulty. We're thankful so many people offered to help us."

Yinpeng was Mr Cao's only chance to live when a nationwide search by the China Marrow Donor Programme found no other matches. But the child had then weighed just 35kg, 10kg short of the minimum 45kg required to safely extract the vital cells.

Despite the potential health risks, Yinpeng began to stuff himself with food and go for walks in the neighbourhood for at least an hour each day.

By mid-June, Yinpeng had hit his 45kg weight target and the medical team began to prepare for the bone marrow transplant.

The preparations included extracting as much as 800ml of blood every week before the operation, leaving the boy sluggish and pale. But he remained upbeat, said Madam Zhang.

"The boy impressed the medical workers a lot with his optimism," said Dr Sang Wei, one of the doctors treating Mr Cao.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2016, with the headline 'Boy donor who saved dad may get dream trip'. Print Edition | Subscribe