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Umbilical cord donor centre to open at Birmingham Women's Hospital

6 June 2012
Appeared in BioNews 659

Stem cells will be harvested and stored at an umbilical cord donor centre at the Birmingham Women's Hospital, UK, according to a BBC report.

The stem cells would be used to treat leukaemia patients, providing a reliable alternative to conventional bone marrow transplants.

The centre, which is due to open in September this year, will be run by the Anthony Nolan Trust, a charity providing support and resources for people diagnosed with blood cancer. The centre is the first of its kind to open in the West Midlands.

'Instead of being incinerated, which is what usually happens, the cord is passed to one of our collectors who extracts the blood and that is sent to our centre in Nottingham where the stem cells are extracted', Guy Parkes, an Anthony Nolan representative, told the BBC.

Stem cells will be transplanted from around one in every 100 saved umbilical cords.

Fiona Harris from Kidderminster is also working to raise money to support the new centre, which will cost more than £200,000 per year to run. Her son was diagnosed with leukaemia at ten months old, and she has set up a charity, called Cords4Life, to raise awareness of the potential of umbilical cord stem cells as a treatment for leukaemia patients.

'When we heard that thousands [of cords] were being discarded every day and just chucked in the bin in this county we thought that we wanted to do something about this', she told the BBC.

The Anthony Nolan Trust opened its first regional stem cell collection centre outside of London last month. The bone marrow stem cell donation clinic is located at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield.

'The central location in Sheffield will help [with donors'] travelling and other logistical arrangements, as well as increasing the UK's ability to meet the growing demands for bone marrow and stem cell transplantation worldwide', Dr John Snowden, blood and marrow transplant director, said at the time.

The Anthony Nolan Trust has already recruited a supervising midwife for the Birmingham centre. Stem cell collectors should be in place and ready within the next month.

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17 February 2014 - by Dr Barbara Kramarz 
A leukaemia patient in the UK, previously given up to 18 months to live, is now in remission after transplant of stem cells from two babies' umbilical cords.
6 February 2012 - by Dr Mary Yarwood 
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Stem Cell Transplantation last week called for more facilities in the UK to increase the collection and banking of valuable cord blood....
1 August 2011 - by Alison Cranage 
The UK Government has recently announced a £4 million investment in stem cell services. The funding will enable NHS Blood and Transplant and charity Anthony Nolan to work together to increase UK cord blood collection and expand and improve adult stem cell donor registers...
22 November 2010 - by Dr Karen Devine 
In April 2008, a Los Angeles Times article posed the question: 'Can a child's umbilical cord blood be used to treat his own cerebral palsy?' (1) The article referred to the extraordinary improvement in health of a little boy in the US, Dallas Hextell, who has the motor neurone disease, cerebral palsy...
16 August 2010 - by Dr Helen Busby 
The possibilities presented by the storage or 'banking' of stem cells from umbilical cord blood after birth have attracted considerable public and media interest since the early part of this decade...
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