The Dubai Cord Blood and Research Centre (DCRC) revealed that 19 patients suffering from various blood diseases were treated using stem cell services.
Dr Fatma Al Hashimi, Senior Clinical Scientist & Head of Donor Recruitment unit at DCRC, revealed that the centre treated the patients who were suffering from diseases such as thalassaemia, leukaemia, sickle cell anaemia and Fanconi anaemia, using stored cord blood stem cells.
DCRC has successfully stored over 7,000 cord blood stem cells since its inception in 2006 and aims to increase the number of donations of ethnically diverse cord blood stem cells.
“After collection, the cord blood stem cells have to undergo various tests before being stored. We need from two to three weeks to determine whether the cord blood unit is acceptable or not for cryopreservation. It is all about quality not quantity and it is important that the cord blood unit meets the international standard and it can be used for transplantation if needed in future.” Dr Al Hashimi said that the centre is also training nurses and doctors on cord blood collection procedure to assure units acceptance.
She added that 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. In fact, Dr Al Hashimi said it has seen a significant increase in the awareness levels among the public about the importance of cord blood stem cells, which increased from only 73 donated units in 2006 to 768 donated units in 2017.
She stressed the importance of raising awareness on donating and storing cord blood stem cells as more than 80 blood diseases can be cured with the help of cord blood stem cells. “Mothers who have multiple pregnancies but do not have any family history of such diseases are ideal candidates for public banking of cord blood. After they store the cord blood for their family, for the subsequent pregnancies, it is recommended that they donate the stem cells for the public registry. Our appeal is for women to ensure stem cells are not wasted as they can be used to save lives.”