Bone Marrow Effort Moves to China

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    A picture of a bone marrow biopsy.

    The adoptive mother of a 16-year-old girl diagnosed with leukemia  returned to San Francisco International Airport Saturday from China after  searching for a donor who could save her daughter's life.   

     Sherrie Cramer, who lives in the eastern part of Sacramento near  Carmichael, is the mother of Katie, who was originally diagnosed with acute  myeloid leukemia in 2006 and suffered a relapse in April.    

    Cramer flew out of the Bay Area on July 1 to encourage more people  to sign up as bone marrow and adult stem cell donors.    

    She returned at about 1 p.m. and was headed back to Sacramento to  see her daughter when she spoke via telephone about her trip.   

     "I think it went really well. It was beneficial that I went," she  said.    

    Cramer started in Beijing, where she initially struggled to get  assistance from local officials for her cause.    

    "They were a little hesitant at first to let me proceed, but I had  a good advocate, and she really helped open the door," she said.    

    The advocate, Roberta Lipson, is the CEO of a health care  technology company in Beijing, and she helped Cramer get in touch with Red  Cross officials in Beijing and Guangxi, the region of southern China where  Katie is from.    

    Donor drives were set up for people who were willing to be tested,  and the Chinese government agreed to allow five people who were possible  matches to have expedited testing done.    

    Local and national media in China also covered the Cramers' story  and encouraged more people to sign up to the donor database.    

    Carol Gillespie, executive director of the Asian American Donor  Program, an Alameda-based organization, has worked with the Cramers since  Katie's leukemia relapsed.    

    Gillespie said the chance of finding a perfect donor match is more  likely among people of similar ancestry, but perfect matches are rare - only  30 percent among siblings, and far less among non-family members - making it  all the more important to increase the number of donors worldwide.