The China Marrow Donor Program (CMDP) is a resounding success, say authorities. Since its establishment in 2001, as many as 970,000 persons have responded, as of last month.
"We expect the number of donors to reach 1 million next year," said Hong Junling, the CMDP director, at the program's annual meeting Tuesday.
The number of donors increased by 170,000 in 2008 over the previous year, he said.
He attributed the increase to more investment in collecting samples, building storages and improving test devices.
The marrow bank, sponsored by the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC), received an allocation of 86 million yuan (12.46 million U.S. dollars) from the central government's proceeds from lottery sales last year.
In the past eight years, about 1,200 volunteers have donated hematopoietic stem cells to patients of blood diseases through the program, he said.
Among them, about 50 people donated to patients abroad, he added.
As the world's largest marrow bank for Chinese, it opens matching service to patients in more than 20 countries and regions including the United States, Canada and Great Britain.
The donor database now has a branch in every provincial division in the Chinese mainland. It also cooperated with six umbilical cord blood banks in the mainland, which enabled it to include 30,000 cord blood samples in its service.
Stem cell transplants have proved effective in treating blood diseases such as sickle-cell anemia, leukemia and other disorders. Matching of a donor and a recipient for HLA was pivotal for the success of blood stem cell transplants, Xinhua reported.
In China, about one million people were waiting for matching hematopoietic stem cells while the number of leukemia patients increased by around 40,000 annually.
"We hope to increase cooperation with marrow banks abroad, especially with those countries and regions that have more Chinese donors," said Jiang Yiman, the executive vice president of the Chinese Red Cross Society.