‘If I Don’t Do It, Who Else Will?’: Meet Platelet Donor Wing Kau Fung
November 7, 2017
| by Maxine Nunes
Donor Wing Kau Fung, his wife Lynn and her daughter, Jenny
The first time Wing Kau Fung donated blood, he fainted.
He was in college then, and it didn’t stop him. He was soon back donating more. Maybe one reason his friends call him “Kauboy.”
After that first experience, though, it did get easier, and he gave blood a couple of times a year just because it felt good to give back. Then something happened that made donating more urgent and the stakes more personal.
In 1995, Fung was a special education teacher at Lockwood Elementary School in Los Angeles when he learned that a 9-year-old girl named Jenny, the daughter of his colleague Lynn Hosozawa, had been diagnosed with leukemia.
Jenny had been admitted to the hospital and her survival depended on a steady supply of blood platelets. That’s because when leukemia cells build up in the bone marrow, they crowd out the normal cells that produce blood and its components.
“Lynn was asking if people could donate platelets for Jenny, and I said OK, I’d do it for her,” said Fung.
Jenny remained in the hospital for almost two years, and during that entire time, every two weeks without fail — the required minimum time between donations — Fung provided platelets for her.
Throughout the ordeal of treatments, radiation and chemotherapy, Jenny and her parents soldiered on, waiting and hoping for remission. But two years after she was hospitalized, the doctors had bad news.
“They told Lynn and her husband there was nothing more they could do for Jenny. Just take her home, they said, and enjoy what you can of the time that’s left.”
Their hopes, their world, shattered. What happened next seemed nothing less than miraculous.
Lynn heard that City of Hope was doing bone marrow transplants, so she brought Jenny there, and they waited for a match. It took awhile, but she received a transplant and has been fine ever since.”
For Hosozawa, however, there was another serious repercussion to everything her family had been through — one that’s not uncommon for couples who experience a crisis like this. Her relationship with her husband didn’t survive the pressure, and her marriage ended.
“After all of this was over, Lynn was in distress,” said Fung, “so I took her to lunch.” They soon began seeing more of each other.
In 2001, they were married — and that’s not the only happy outcome of this story.
Jenny recently graduated with a master’s degree in speech and language from California State University Northridge, and has just accepted a job offer from the Los Angeles Unified School District to work as a speech therapist.
Fung is now principal of Castelar Elementary School in Los Angeles and, despite an intense schedule, continues to this day to donate blood regularly to City of Hope.
In addition to the satisfaction of giving back, being a blood donor has another payoff — it helps him stay in shape.
“Because I know I’m donating, and I don’t want to give them bad blood, I try to stay as healthy as possible. So I work out more and ride a bike on weekends.”
Whenever he has blood drawn, he always checks the color. If it’s dark instead of bright red, he knows there’s not enough oxygen and he’d better rev up his exercise routine.
“I've been happy to donate. There’s always such a great need for it,” he said. “Every year, I hear that City of Hope has to purchase more blood because they don’t get enough donors. And if I don’t do it, who else will?”
To make an appointment to donate blood or platelets at City of Hope’s Michael Amini Transfusion Medicine Center, go to www.idonateblood4hope.org
or call 626-218-7171. If you have additional questions, email i[email protected]
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