National

Crowdfunding campaign aims to help leukemia patients in Japan have children after treatment

JIJI

An organization promoting bone marrow donations has launched a crowdfunding campaign intended to help protect the future fertility of leukemia patients and their ability to have children.

The group hopes to collect ¥10 million in about two months through the campaign, which was launched Thursday.

The goal is to financially support leukemia patients by storing their sperm and eggs, before their reproductive functions are damaged and possibly lost due to radiation therapy related to bone marrow transplants. Such provision opens up the possibility of having children in the future using those preserved reproductive materials.

As sperm and egg storage is not covered under health insurance programs, patients themselves are currently required to bear all costs related to such treatment.

According to the organization, collection and storage of sperm costs about ¥20,000 to ¥70,000, while comparable treatment and services for eggs cost from ¥150,000 to ¥450,000. Annual preservation fees stand at about ¥10,000 to ¥60,000.

The organization held a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday to announce the launch of the crowdfunding campaign, with speakers including a 42-year-old male public servant from the island of Shikoku who was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia when he was 25.

The man, who underwent a bone marrow transplant operation after the diagnosis, had his sperm preserved beforehand. He now has three children.

The collection and preservation of his sperm cost more than ¥500,000, with some of the funding covered by his parents.

“Many people in their 20s don’t have much money, and costs for treating such diseases are high,” the man said. “Financial assistance (for sperm and egg storage) can reduce patients’ financial and psychological burdens and give them a sense of relief.”

A 49-year-old housewife from Yokohama who suffered from aplastic anemia had her eggs stored when she was 35, before receiving a bone marrow transplant. She gave birth to a baby girl five years ago.

“I want a system to be created that enables people fighting difficult diseases to receive treatment for their illness while maintaining the hope of having children in the future,” she told the news conference.

The campaign is collecting donations through its website.

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