We’re excited to announce that today we’re officially launching our fifth cord blood collection site. We’re also pleased to announce the news that the site will move to a 24/7 service from January 2013, after the site collected a record-breaking number of samples in its first four months. The extended hours means mothers giving birth at the hospital will have more opportunity to donate their cord blood, whatever time of the day or night their baby arrives.
The cord blood collection programme allows mothers to donate their cord blood, found in the umbilical cord and placenta, after the safe birth of their baby. Usually thrown away as clinical waste, we can use the cord blood in lifesaving stem cell transplants for patients with blood cancers like leukaemia. This provides a useful alternative for patients who cannot find a match on the adult donor register.
Professor Ros Keeton, Chief Executive of Birmingham Women’s Hospital, comments, “We are proud to be able to offer this service in partnership with Anthony Nolan. In its first few months, there has been a real success in collection rates and women are obviously enthused to be able to donate and help save lives.”
Guy Parkes, head of the cord blood collection programme at Anthony Nolan, adds, “I’m delighted that the outstanding maternity services team at Birmingham Women’s Hospital and the mothers who have donated there have embraced this important initiative so enthusiastically. The rate of collections over these first few months has been really good and we now want to maximise the potential of this by adding the additional staff to allow this service to run 24/7. It will give more mothers the opportunity to donate their cord blood and help the many patients across the UK who need a lifesaving stem cell transplant.”
Gemma Thomas, who was the first mother to donate her cord blood at Birmingham Women’s Hospital and who will be present on the day itself, says, “The midwife explained that donating my cord blood was simple – all I would need to do is fill in some paperwork and give a blood sample, and when I found out that the umbilical cord and placenta are thrown away as clinical waste after birth, I decided to donate on the spot! I’m so proud to tell my son when he is older that the day he was born he potentially saved someone else’s life.”
A number of charitable trusts and other funders generously helped fund the site, including Aston Villa Football Club, who made a donation towards the site earlier this year. Aston Villa and Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne says: “Stiliyan Petrov’s illness brought this issue into the heart of our dressing-room at Aston Villa and we’re very committed at the Club to bringing as much attention as we can to organisations like Anthony Nolan who can help improve people’s lives, whether they are suffering from leukaemia or other forms of cancers. It’s also fantastic that we’ve been able to help fund a local initiative at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.”
We now have five cord blood collection sites in NHS hospitals: King’s College Hospital London, Royal Free Hampstead, Birmingham Women’s Hospital, Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General Hospital. NHS Blood and Transplant has six cord blood collection sites: Barnet General, Watford General, Northwick Park, Luton and Dunstable, University College Hospital and St George’s Hospitals.