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Donate cord blood and save lives

Stem cell-rich cord blood can help combat genetic disorders

Gulf News

Dubai: Stem cell-rich cord blood harvested from the umbilical cord of a newborn can treat genetic blood and other inherited disorders in people. The Dubai Cord Blood and Research Centre which cryopreserves this blood recently stated that since its inception, it has successfully stored nearly 7,000 units of stem cells and has the capacity to store up to 15,000 units of stem cells.

The centre has announced that it is currently training private hospitals in Dubai to collect donated cord blood cells with the aim of increasing the number of donations with ethnic diversity.

Elaborating on the harvesting process, Fatma Al Hashemi, genetic specialist and head of Donor Recruitment at the centre, said:

“After collection, the cord blood stem cells undergo various tests before being stored. We need two to three weeks to determine whether the cord blood unit is acceptable for cryopreservation. First, we have to check and make sure the donated sample is free of clot and contains sufficient volume of cord blood. We also need to determine the nucleated cells, recovery rate, CD34+ cell count and the viability and also screen it for any viral infections which takes four-five days while simultaneously performing cord blood culture, which takes two weeks to get the results of the microbiological test.”

Al Hashemi revealed that an average of 80 per cent of private cord blood units are accepted whereas only 40 per cent of public cord blood units are accepted. “It is important that the cord blood unit meets the international standard and can be used for transplantation. We have treated 17 patients with different diseases such as thalassaemia, leukaemia and sickle cell anaemia.” she added.

Al Hashemi also said the centre which is the only government entity that offers public and private banking of cord blood advocates the importance of public donation of cord blood stem cells to help form a substantial registry of cord blood stem cells for the UAE and raising awareness about it encouraged new mothers to donate their cord blood.

She added that donations had increased from 73 units in 2006 to 768 in 2017 only because of greater public awareness. Al Hashemi said it was important to educate expectant mothers who had multiple pregnancies to donate the cord blood for public banking after they had stored the cord blood for private use.

She added that mothers who had been through more than one pregnancy with no family history of inherited blood disorders should come forward to donate cord blood for public registry after they had stored for their private use. Those interested may contact the centre on 04-2194010/11.