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Cryo Save Arabia’s stem cell bank’s free cord blood/ stem cell storage programme is open to all Dubai expats with children diagnosed with specific medical conditions. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Families of children with medical conditions that can be cured by stem cells, can now store the blood collected from their child’s umbilical cords at birth free of cost for up to five years. Normally it costs anything upwards of Dh15,000 to store cord blood for 25-30 years.

However, marking the global cord blood awareness months, Cryo Save Arabia’s stem cell bank at the Dubai Health Care City (DHCC) has launched its first cost-free cord blood/ stem cell storage programme which is open to all Dubai expatriate families where children already have been diagnosed with such diseases.

Sarah Al Hajali

This gesture by Cryo Save will enable many underprivileged families to store cord blood. Sarah Al Hajali, Chief Executive Officer of the stem cell bank said under the cost-free programme, their organisation was all set to enroll nearly 200 children in its first year. Families facing serious medical conditions will have access to free stem cell banking through our new programme giving hope to thousands of families in the UAE over the next coming years.”

Dr Mai Ebrahim

Dr Mai Ebrahim, Laboratory Director and Chief Operation Officer of the organisaton added: “We are excited about launching the Cost-Free Stem Cell Programme in Dubai Healthcare City, which is really the birthplace of family stem cell banking in the region. This programme is a way for us to provide a safety net to children at risk for a number of medical conditions while helping to advance the science of regenerative medicine.“

In Dubai, the trend of storing cord blood and harvesting stem cells for therapies later, has been catching up for families.

Expectant families may be eligible for this cost free programme if a family member has been diagnosed with certain cancers, such as leukemia, or blood, immune, and metabolic disorders, such as sickle cell anemia, DiGeorge syndrome, and Krabbe disease, which may require a stem cell transplant. Families may also qualify if their newborn is at-risk for a medical condition, such as cerebral palsy and autism, for which stem cells are currently being investigated as a potential treatment option.

Families can write to infoarabia@cryo-save.com for details on the cost-free programmme.

What is cord blood?

The child in its mother’s womb receives nourishment through the umbilical cord with which it is attached to the mother. After birth, the cord and neighbouring tissue were traditionally discarded. However, a growing body of published data suggests stem cell rich cord blood acts as a bio repair kit with regenerative properties and can actually be transplanted into the child to cure several medical conditions.

Dh15,000

average cost of storing cord blood for 25-30 years.

In the US it has received FDA approval for treatment of nearly 80 diseases, including numerous types of malignancies, anaemias, inherited metabolic disorders and deficiencies of the immune system. It has saved thousands of lives around the world through more than 40,000 transplantations.