As a private stem cell bank, one of the most common questions we get asked is what the likelihood of needing to use banked stem cells? While we sincerely hope that the need for a stem cell transplant never arises for our clients, at any given time, over 1,600 people in the UK alone are waiting for a match to be found so they can receive a stem cell transplant.
According to Cancer Research UK, each year there are 4,000 new Myeloma cases and 2,500 deaths, 11,000 Lymphoma diagnoses, resulting in 4,000 deaths and 7,000 Leukaemia cases causing another 4,000 deaths.
Since 1988, umbilical cord blood derived stem cell transplants have been a major weapon in the treatment of blood cancers. The NHS recognises the value of cord blood in such treatments and has formed the NHS Cord Blood Bank.
In his recent post on politics.co.uk (on 1st February 2011) David Burrows MP (Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate) states that a national bank would only have to maintain a supply of 50,000 cord blood units to meet the needs of patients awaiting a donor match.
In order to avoid rejection, a close tissue match is required and the speed of locating that match can affect the success of transplant. That is the main reason many parents opt to store their baby’s cord blood for their own child’s future autologous use.
With approximately 700,000 births in the UK every year, it is extremely unlikely that the individuals who opt to bank their baby’s cord blood privately will affect the number of donated units available for public use via the NHS Cord Blood Bank. After all, a total 50,000 units represents only 7% of the annual births in the UK, and with scientific evidence now demonstrating that cryogenically preserved stem cells are still viable after at least 30 years, it is extremely unlikely that these units will be withdrawn at the same rate as they are donated!
At Precious Cells, we firmly believe in an individual’s right to choose. More important, however, is our belief that whether that individual chooses to bank privately or not, that the incredibly precious stem cells found in cord blood should not, as happens now, be discarded as medical waste.
Find out more about Cord Blood banking options at www.precious-cells.com