U.S. woman gets new lease on life after leukemia treatment in Taiwan

Taipei,  An American national suffering from acute myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer that starts in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow, recently received a new lease on life after successfully seeking treatment at Taipei Veterans General Hospital (TVGH) in Taiwan.

The 38-year-old patient had her treatment for leukemia cut short at a hospital in Beijing, China in February as the country focused on combating the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Just as she was about to receive her bone marrow transplant, the hospital announced that all such treatment was indefinitely suspended as a result of COVID-19, Taipei veterans hospital said, without disclosing the name of the patient.

As a result, the woman’s only chance was to seek help outside China.

Ko Po-shen (柯博伸), a physician at TVGH’s Division of Hematology, said the biggest challenge in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia lies in its high recurrence rate.

The American patient had been treated with chemotherapy and oral targeted therapies while in Beijing, but due to genetic mutation, she urgently needed a bone marrow transplant, Ko said.

If bone marrow transplantation cannot be performed in time, once the cancer recurs the survival rate is less than 20 percent, he explained.

According to TVGH, the patient sought help through the hospital’s International Medical Service Center in May, with her request receiving special approval from the Ministry of Health and Welfare to come to Taiwan for treatment the following month, despite the fact that the country has yet to open up to foreign visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Hou Ming-chih (侯明志), director of the Taipei hospital’s Medicine Department, cited the spirit of humanitarian care as the reason for admitting the patient.

She has since passed the most critical point in the transplant process and is currently on the road to recovery, the hospital said.

The woman said she learned about Taiwan after reading a report in the peer-reviewed general medical journal The Lancet, which ranked the country as number one in the treatment of leukemia.

Expressing her gratitude, the American national said the first thing she wants to do on being discharged from the hospital is to try Taiwan’s famous “xiaolongbao” (steamed pork dumplings) and beef noodles.

 

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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