For more than 10 years of doing volunteer works to help the poor, Master Cheng Yen realized that “poverty is often caused by illness.” In order to eradicate poverty, the Master vowed to build a hospital to serve the needy in Eastern Taiwan. The Master started Tzu Chi’s Mission of Medicine by attending to the sick in Hualien and nearby counties where medical resources were very much inadequate at that time. Free clinics were conducted two times a week for 15 consecutive years serving the indigents in Eastern Taiwan.
In 1979, hoping to extend the great spirit of kindness and compassion of Buddhism, the Master called for the construction of a hospital. Starting from nothing, she began to raise funds. There were periods of obstacles and setbacks, but because of her persistence, many people were touched and persuaded to form a stream of love. On August 17, 1986, Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital was officially inaugurated, signifying a new milestone in Tzu Chi’s Mission of Medicine.
Upholding the Master’s intention of building a hospital to help the poor and the sick, Tzu Chi Hospital took the first step in Taiwan by abolishing the requirement of cash deposit before admitting a patient. Such venture caused a stir among the medical society, which later earned the affirmation of Taiwan’s Department of Health. Consequently, it leads to the department’s pronouncement to abolish the cash deposit system in every hospital in Taiwan, which is good news to all who are sick.
Within 20 years, Tzu Chi unceasingly sets up its network of medical services across Taiwan to allow its Mission of Medicine to spread out far and wide. Six hospitals in strategic locations are now serving the public; in which each infrastructure was engraved with love in History of Tzu Chi Foundation.
Marrow Donor Registry: Brief Intro
Out of compassion towards patients struggling with blood-related ailments, the Master significantly took on the great task to setup a bone marrow donor registry and help save the patients’ lives. On October 20, 1993, Tzu Chi Foundation established “Buddhist Tzu Chi Marrow Donor Registry Center.” To match international standards, the center was later changed to “Buddhist Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center” on April 2002.
With the overwhelming promotion and participation of Tzu Chi volunteers, many kind-hearted people signed up in the registry. As of June 2009, more than 310,000 people had registered as potential marrow donors. To date, Buddhist Tzu Chi Marrow Donor Registry has facilitated more than 1,800 cases of stem cell donations for patients in 27 countries.
The Tzu Chi Marrow Donor and Stem Cells Center is an independent medical institution that manages the world’s largest Asian marrow donor and stem cell tissue registries. It is also the third largest registry in the world. What is unique and special with this center is that it is the only marrow registry center established and operated without governmental financial support.