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Friday, March 31, 2006 

Story that Swept Vancouver and Chongqing

The story of a three year old Canadian girl who was adopted from Sichuan and diagnosed with leukemia has been on the news headlines for a number of days by now. I was amazed by how swiftly the Chinese Consulate had responded to the case and got the Chongqing municiple government to help locate the girl's biological parents, soon after the story was first reported in the media.

Meanwhile, the little girl's as well as her parents' experience makes one ponders about life.

"Makoda Suen didn't come with a name when she was abandoned as an infant at an orphanage in Changqing [sic], China.

The only information identifying her came in the form of a note left with her by her birth parents, stating their daughter was born on March 13, 2003.

Three years later, that obscurity is gone, erased by a rare cancer that has medical and government officials worldwide scrambling to save the little girl's life.

These days it might be hard to find anyone in Changqing [sic] who doesn't know the little girl's name or recognize her cheery face, smiling out at the camera from her bed at B.C. Children's Hospital in Vancouver, the city where she now lives with her adoptive parents, David and Joyce Suen.

In the past week, media in Changqing [sic] has been been abuzz with the little girl's story, after officials with Chinese Consulate in Vancouver issued an appeal on behalf of the family to the local municipal government to try to find a suitable bone marrow or blood donor for a life-saving transplant.

The outcome of the international effort is increasingly critical.

Last June, Makoda was diagnosed with a rare type of leukemia and went through five months of aggressive chemotherapy at just two years of age. By December, tests showed she was in remission. But routine tests last week found the blood cancer had returned.

The story has stirred huge public interest both in Vancouver and in China, prompting people in both countries to have their blood tested for a match, said Jian Wang, China's vice-consul in Vancouver.

"She [Makoda] is so little and her ailment is so serious," Wang said, explaining the strong public response. Wang said that message was brought home loud and clear to him personally Tuesday when he attended the hospital to speak with Makoda's parents, and caught a glimpse of the little girl."

Update 04/22/06: RTHK has the latest report on the story in Cantonese. It's available for download in mp3.

Update 06/28/06: The Globe and Mail reports today that "Makoda's parents, David and Joyce Suen, announced their daughter's death yesterday. Surrounded by family and friends, Makoda died on Thursday, "peacefully in our arms," they said in a release." See also CBC's report. For those who can understand Chinese, a new little touching flash to cheer you up amidst of the sad news.

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