On the day you give birth, you could give life - twice.
You could save a person’s life just by donating the blood stored in the umbilical cord and placenta following the birth of your baby.
It's a risk free procedure and does not interfere with the safe delivery of your baby in any way.
When a baby is born, its umbilical cord and placenta (afterbirth) are usually thrown away as clinical waste. But this ‘waste’ could actually one day save someone’s life. The blood in the cord and placenta is rich in stem cells. These stem cells can be used for lifesaving transplants for patients suffering from leukaemia and serious blood disorders.
Stem cell transplants from cord blood are a great alternative to those from adult donors. But the UK currently collects and stores a tiny amount of cord blood. It’s far less than other countries and nowhere near enough to meet the number of people who desperately need stem cell transplants. At present, two people miss out on the chance of a transplant every day.
We’ve harnessed this lifesaving method by establishing our own Cord Blood programme. We collect cord blood from consenting mothers in an expanding group of NHS maternity hospitals working with us. At present this includes King's College Hospital or The Royal Free Hospital in London and the Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General Hospital. Our goal is bank 15,000 cord units by 2014.
Once collected, the cord blood units are transported to our Cell Therapy Centre at Nottingham Trent University. We then determine whether we can use them in clinical transplants. If we can, they are ‘banked’. This makes them available for transplant centres urgently looking for a match for a patient who needs a stem cell transplant.
If the cord blood unit doesn’t have enough stem cells to be used for a transplant, we use it for our research programmes. Our research explores ways to improve the success of transplants in fighting leukaemia and serious blood disorders. We’re also doing pioneering research with partners to explore how cord blood stem cells can help with degenerative conditions.