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Leukaemia patient in remission after umbilical cord stem cell transplant

17 February 2014
Appeared in BioNews 742

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.

David Pyne, who is 60, was forced to consider alternative options after chemotherapy and traditional blood transfusions failed. He was offered the therapy using donated blood from the umbilical cords of two newborns, one in America and one in France.

'Umbilical cord blood is very rich in stem cells, which being so immature have phenomenal regenerative powers. These were a great, alternative source of cells for David, in fact the only option, as after a worldwide search he had no other available donor', said Dr Mike Dennis, director of the haematology and transplant unit at The Christie hospital in Manchester where Pyne was treated.

Pyne is one of the first people in the UK to undergo an umbilical cord blood transplant, although the procedure is available on the NHS. Six similar transplants were performed at The Christie over the last year.

In the UK, pregnant mothers in cities including London, Birmingham and Leicester can donate their babies' umbilical cords and placentas to blood banks. Yet around 65,000 litres of cord blood were discarded last year, lowering the chances of meeting potential transplant requests.

However the Central Manchester University Hospitals Trust may open a further cord blood collection point. A spokeswoman told the Manchester Evening News: 'As part of our commitment to deliver a unique range of services to the north-west, Saint Mary's Hospital is currently assessing the feasibility of developing a cord blood collection centre here in Manchester'.

Cord blood can be frozen and stored after collection, to be used when needed.

Pyne is currently seen at the hospital as an outpatient on a weekly basis. He told ITV News he was 'truly amazed when my doctor at The Christie said we could use this option. To think two newborns saved an old man's life is just marvellous and it's given me more time with my own grandchildren'.

Grandfather with leukaemia given 18 months to live is saved by two babies' UMBILICAL CORDS
Mail Online |  12 February 2014
Manchester grandad saved by two newborn babies
ITV |  12 February 2014
Stem cells from baby's umbilical cord save life of granddad given months to live
Mirror |  12 February 2014
Umbilical cord stem cell donation 'saves' leukaemia man
BBC News |  12 February 2014
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