Five-year-old Sun Lexuan, from China, is critically ill with the rare blood disorder, aplastic anaemia. Her parents made the decision to conceive her younger sister, Sun Yiwei, so that the umbilical cord blood could be used as treatment.
Aplastic anaemia is a rare disorder, causing bone marrow and stem cells to not produce enough blood cells. Sun Lexuan's parents were having trouble finding a treatment for their daughter, but knew that the cord blood stem cells of a sibling would provide a close enough tissue match for successful results.
Stem cells are abundant in umbilical cord blood and are more adaptable than those found in bone marrow. They can renew damaged cells and develop into white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. This has made cord blood banking an increasingly popular safety net for parents, where precious stem cells can be frozen and stored at birth for potential future use.
Since Lexuan was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia at just three years old, her condition was stabilised with Antilymphocyte Globulin - a serum from blood containing antibodies. However, the arrival of baby Yiwei will finally provide a cure and bring much happiness and relief to the family.
Yiwei's cord blood was collected straight after she was born at the Jinan Military General Hospital on 19th January. Lexuan will receive her first stem cell transplant using her baby sister's umbilical cord blood after the Chinese New Year.