Hong Kong Chinese perceptions of the experience of unrelated bone marrow donation

Eleanor Holroyd, Alexander Molassiotis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a qualitative perspective of the Chinese experience of unrelated bone marrow donation. A total population of 37 Chinese men and women, residing in Hong Kong who had donated bone marrow to an unrelated recipient were interviewed and asked their retrospective perceptions and experiences during the process of unrelated bone marrow donation. The majority was female (60%) and single (59.3%). The median age was 30.9 years. The main themes drawn from thematic content analysis included: association with bad and good fortune, religious concerns associated with complete bodies, barriers posed by the extended family, fulfilling personal identities linked to perceptions of altruism, reciprocity and generosity and the differences between the expectations and reality of the experience of bone marrow donation. These accounts indicate how, for Chinese populations, the act of body fluid donation cannot be isolated from the experiences of life-long immersion in the dominant social and cultural processes of the time. In addition, Confucian notions of the body, the power of body fluids to pollute, the importance of blood and bones as sources of vital energy and the process of bodily transference into the after life are highlighted. Furthermore, what is also identifiably Chinese is that donation is more of a self-fulfilling act than a social act with very little familial or social recognition being accorded in the public world. The conclusion highlights how donors entered into the decision to donate with little awareness of the long-term consequences. The process, however, was seen by the donors to be beneficial. A compelling argument is made for more educational and emotional support regarding the experience of bone marrow donation from Hong Kong's formal service providers. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone marrow donation
  • Chinese
  • Hong Kong
  • Unrelated donors


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