With the tension of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan has become famous around the world for its success in epidemic prevention. Under the impact of the pandemic, many patients’ dream of seeking medical attention overseas has been shattered. That said, Taiwan has recently completed transnational medical care and bone marrow stem cell transplantation from a non-relative, which once again demonstrates Taiwan’s high-efficiency and high-standard medical care.
Eric, a 70-year-old British man who had long lived in Hong Kong, was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia associated with mononucleosis combined with acute leukemia progression last year (2019). The patient needed a bone marrow transplant. A hospital in Hong Kong recommended that he sought treatment from bone marrow stem cell transplantation experts from Taiwan. The patient was referred to Director Jih-Luh Tang and of the NTU Cancer Center Department of Hematological Oncology and Attending Physician Jia-Hau Liu who provided joint assistance. Fortunately, from Tzu Chi’s bone marrow registry, a complete match (donor) was found. With the coordination and cooperation of the NTUH Cancer Center, the NTUH International Medical Service Center and other departments, the medical visa was completed before the Drag on Boat Festival Period. The gate of medical attention seeking leading to rebirth was opened for Eric and his family in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, today (July 2, 2020). A bone marrow transplant was completed in August, and the patient was discharged smoothly. The NTU Cancer Center who assisted in the treatment called a press conference on October 7.
According to Superintendent James Chi-Hsin Yang of NTU Cancer Center, in addition to the high efficiency demonstrated by the ministries in Taiwan, the breakthroughs achieved in the midst of the pandemic is commendable. Again, I am proud of Taiwan’s high medical standards and friendliness to the world. The NTUH’s bone marrow transplant room has eight beds available, which are expected to be increased to 30 beds. The total number of bone marrow transplant beds is expected to be three times more than before. It is expected to become an important bone marrow transplant base in Asia. With the mutual support of the National Taiwan University Hospital, the rich medical team resources, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, leukemia and urinary cancer, teams have been stationed to jointly safeguard the health of the people.
Deputy Superintendent Jin-Shing Chen of NTU Cancer Center said that care after receiving a bone marrow transplant from a non-relative is the key in determining the success or failure of leukemia patient treatment. Faced with the harsh epidemic situation, the NTU Cancer Center has displayed a high degree of teamwork with the departments in search a ray of hope for patients. The NTU Cancer Center will continue to work hard in the future, increase ward beds, provide more professional holistic care in cancer treatment and become the leading cancer center hospital in Asia.
Director Jih-Luh Tang of NTU Cancer Center Department of Hematological Oncology has led the leukemia team for several decades. Chairman Dr. Bor-Sheng Ko of Taiwan Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Director of NTU Cancer Center Department of Hematological Oncology attended today. He said the patient’s leukemia had progressed to the point that an immediate transplant was needed. According to the patient, due to the insufficiency of transplant ward beds, patients age over 60 are informed to undergo transplantation overseas. Singapore used to be one of the options in the past. That said, according to the recent Lancet Magazine, Taiwan’s rating in acute myeloid leukemia care and medical care rank number one in the world, the only country awarded 100 points by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation using multiple medical indicators. The self-paid transplantation cost in Taiwan is only 1/3 that of Singapore. Therefore, Taiwan has gradually become a new choice for leukemia treatment and bone marrow stem cell transplants other than Hong Kong and other Asian Countries.
According to Attending Physician Jia-Hau Liu of NTU Cancer Center Department of Hematological Oncology, the National Taiwan University (NTU) adopts reduced doses in transplantation. Tens of patients over age 70 have undergone transplantation, with low transplant-related mortality.
A patient named Eric once said with tears that he is thankful the NTU Cancer Center saved his life. Taiwan is now the safest place in the world. Everything here is good, medical care and the people alike.
The patient has been given a new life and there are no rejection responses. The patient periodically pays a follow-up revisit. During the period of preparing to come to Taiwan, the highest quarantine standards shall apply. 72 hours prior to airport arrival, in addition to requiring patients to undergo the accurate Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test for the detection of nucleic acid to determine if one is tested negative for novel coronavirus, the patient is required to observe a 3-week home quarantine and self-health management upon arrival.
The Tai-Cheng Stem Cell Therapy Center of the NTU Cancer Center will also carry out the compassionate use of CART-T cell therapy to treat leukemia. It is expected to bring more hope to patients undergoing treatment. In addition to showing the high efficiency of the ministries in Taiwan, the high medical standards and friendliness of our country have once again been appreciated and admired by people from all walks of life.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude and sincerely thank Professor Tang, Dr. Liu, Nurse Mei Wu and his team for giving me a new life. I am reborn!
From my first consultation to my weekly check ups, Dr. Liu and his team have been highly professional, and made this experience very comfortable and seamless.
During this pandemic, I know it is not easy to let a foreigner come into Taiwan for medical treatment, thank you for all your hard work in getting me and my family here. I am grateful for the support from Taiwan and NTUCC in all their efforts to help save a life.
I am extremely thankful to my donor and Tzu Chi Foundation, without you, this is not possible. The most deepest respect and honor to all the beautiful kind-hearted donors, they are great angels. I hope, in the future, National Taiwan University Cancer Center will be able to help more cancer patients like me, and continue to provide excellent service and treatment to those in need.