Cord blood : the life saver : Global Organisation for Pravasis Urakam (GOPUR)

Published On: Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cord blood : the life saver

When mothers decide to store stem-cell-rich cord blood right after giving birth, they pray that they will never have to use it for their families in the future.
In the UAE, a country where 40 per cent of the population is anaemic and thalassemia remains the topmost blood disorder among the local population, storing stem cells can be a life-saving decision.

In unexpected circumstances such as disabilities resulting from traffic accidents, donated stem cells can also be used to save lives.

Recently, five thalassemia patients got a new lease of life after getting transplanted with stem cells or master cells derived from cord blood kept safe at the Dubai Cord Blood and Research Centre (DCRC) at Latifa Hospital. The transplants were done overseas after the centre transported the units.

“The six years since we opened, there has been a steady trickle of patients wanting to store cord blood,” said Fatma Hussain Al Hashimi, Head of the Educational Research Unit that was opened three months ago. In total, 3,305 units are stored at the centre for the next 20 years.

“We want to tell women that they should not waste this blood and that they can store it with us for the better future and health of their families,” explained Fatma.

“It’s like taking insurance.”

The educational unit was set up to spread the word.

“Till now, we have been collecting samples from women delivering in Dubai and Latifa Hospitals, but now we are expanding and have started collecting from private hospitals in the emirate as well,” she added.

The number of units collected has increased since the unit opened. Compared to the 471 units collected over the entire 2011, 350 have already been collected since the beginning of this year. Of these, 71 per cent of the samples were collected from government hospitals (Dubai and Latifa) and 29 per cent from the private hospitals. It is easy to convince women to save.

“I tell them we are cheaper as compared to similar stem cells banks in Europe and the UK,” said Fatima. “I also tell them that they should never compare money with health.”

According to Shaikha Ibrahim bin Kalban, Head of Administration and Medical Labs at the centre, one does not need to wait for an accident to happen before deciding to save stem cells. Family history also helps women take decisions, she said. And saving the cord blood is a one-time chance for the baby. Otherwise, the umbilical cord, from where the blood as well as the tissues are stored in the procedure, will go as a medical waste.

“In the UAE, cells derived from this blood are mainly used to treat diseases common in the country such as thalassemia, anaemia and leukemia,” she added.

When set up in June, 2006, five UAE national women were the first volunteer donors at the centre who had requested that the cells should be kept for their own use.

The centre charges a one-time registration fee of Dh2,000. In total, the fee for 20 years is Dh9,000 which includes testing and provision of a collection kit.

Storage for thalassemia patients is free of cost provided they give birth in either Latifa or Dubai Hospitals.

News Source, credit and thanks : Khaleej Times (Asma Ali Zain)

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Posted on Thursday, May 24, 2012. Labelled under , . Feel free to leave a response

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