When a baby is born, its umbilical cord and placenta are usually thrown away as clinical waste. But this ‘waste’ could actually save someone’s life.
Cord blood and placenta donation is extremely important as they are rich in stem cells, similar to the ones found in bone marrow, and they are an excellent alternative to getting marrow from adult donors as they can be used in transplants for patients suffering from leukaemia and other blood diseases.
Despite the presence of almost 29 million adult bone marrow donors on registers around the world, many patients suffering from leukaemia and other blood diseases are still unable to find a matching donor. This is particularly the case for those who are not Caucasian. Cord blood could offer them the vital lifesaving option.
The Sue Harris Trust wholeheartedly endorses the Department of Health’s plan to grow the national cord blood register to 50,000 units, where it is estimated 85% of those needing a donor will be able to obtain a match. Indeed, the Trust has supported the collection of cord blood, having funded the first clinical trials in the UK, a health economics study used by the Department of Health in framing its national plan for cord blood and enabled Anthony Nolan to establish a cord blood collection centre at the Royal Free Hospital, in London. With 800,000 births every year, there is great potential for the UK to reach this lifesaving target soon.
If you are interested in donating cord blood, we would recommend you contact the Anthony Nolan, NHSBT or Precious Cells, whose details can be found here.