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The Kindness of a Stranger

The Kindness of a Stranger

The Kindness of a Stranger: Chinese Man Donates Stem Cells to British Boy

Kindness is a trait that we see all over the world; and it’s a trait that helps us to break down barriers, move across borders and realise that the saying that “we live in a global community” is, indeed, very true. This was my first reaction when I heard that a Chinese man had donated his stem cells to a total stranger who lives in Britain.

Jiang Yongfeng, a Shanghai driver, registered with a stem cell donation project through his work, and was informed soon after that a match had been found. Stem cell donations require the donor and recipient to have almost identical genes, so it’s some kind of miracle that a near genetic match has been found between two strangers who live half a world apart. The recipient, a British boy of Chinese heritage, is only 7 years old, and has now been given a second chance at life because of this heroic act of kindness. Even Jiang feels like “fate was knocking on his door” and that when he realised how young the boy is, he became even more convinced that he had made the right decision.

Jiang underwent a fairly painless procedure, whereby stem cells were “activated” in his bloodstream and then removed from his body by blood transfusion. Soon after, his stem cells were sent to the UK for the young boy to receive.

It’s clear that Jiang is very modest about what he’s done, as he says that he just hopes that the boy can now live a long and healthy life. I would like to hope that this is just one of many cases whereby a total stranger has saved someone else’s life.  Many friends of mine have donated blood, are registered organ donors but I don’t think I know anyone who is a registered stem cell donor. Reading this story made me think how we are all in some sense obliged to care for our global neighbours, for even on a base level, if we were ill we would hope that someone had been kind enough to donate something that we needed.

But if we take the selfish element out of it: surely this is something that should be common, we should all believe that we should contribute to the improvement of world health. Evidently, there’s no way we can all be medical marvels, but we can share our healthy bodies, or at least parts of them, with those who need them the most. Apart from religious reasons, I struggle to think of any rational reason why we shouldn’t help our neighbours. If you think about it, if you could help a family member by donating blood, marrow or cells, I’m sure you would. What about your friend? And their family? I’m sure you would.


Everyone is part of someone’s family; everyone is someone’s friend. If we have the medical ability to cure, or help treat, an illness or disease it’s a sad waste of a life that we can’t help someone purely because no one else has volunteered to help them. The next time you’re filling out your driver’s licence or medical forms, think of being an organ donor. Maybe even give blood, or register as a stem cell donor. If we all made a pledge to do the same, I wonder what a difference we could make. Hopefully we’ll find out soon, and beautiful stories like Jiang’s won’t be news-worthy anymore: they’ll be the norm, and today’s norm will be the exception.


Lauren is a soon-to-be London lawyer and a current Masters student studying in Rennes, France for a Masters in French law (specializing in European Union Law). She’s a blogger (www.thelifestylediaries.com) and has worked for Her Campus Media as President of the University of Exeter chapter and the Manager of UK Expansion in the past. When she’s not working she loves reading, watching old films, walking with her dog in the English countryside and enjoying all that London has to offer. An avid traveler, and someone who wants to experience as many cultures as she can, Lauren visited Sri Lanka last year and is looking to visit Bali, Italy and Canada this year.


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