|Samantha Blank donated her cord blood when she gave birth to Olivia Jane.|
This is a time when many people make New Year resolutions. For expectant mothers there is one you can add to the list which will help save lives – by donating cord blood after giving birth.
NHS Cord Blood Bank at Luton and Dunstable Hospital is asking mums-to-be to think about donating the gift of cord blood. This is the blood left in the placenta and umbilical cord after the baby is born, that would otherwise be discarded.
Rich in stem cells, cord blood can be used to cure leukaemia, immune disorders and other life-threatening illnesses.
Samantha Blank, from Dunstable, gave birth to baby Olivia Jane at Luton and Dunstable Hospital on December 16. The mum-of-two urges others to donate and says it really is a simple process where the cord blood bank staff do everything after the baby is born.
She said: “I was approached by someone from the NHS Cord Blood Bank who was talking about blood cord donation and asked if I would be interested. I explained to her that I had gestational diabetes, and never registered as I thought with this condition I was unable to donate the cord blood. She told me that with gestational diabetes the placenta is bigger. This means that there are normally more stem cells, so I agreed to donate my cord blood as I felt it was going to a good cause instead of being thrown away.
“I feel what happens at the cord bank is very special, and hope my cord blood can help other families and help save a life. I would encourage others to do the same. It's a very easy thing to do and can help others in years to come.”
Since the NHS Cord Blood Bank was set up at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital in 2004, around 5,000 cord blood units have been collected, and 90 units have been issued for transplantation.
Tracy Harris, NHS Cord Blood Bank Team Manager, who manages the cord blood collection at the hospital, said: “Many expectant mums may not realise that Luton and Dunstable Hospital is a collection site for cord blood, so we want to make them aware and to think about donating their cord blood after giving birth.
“This is a chance for them to help save a life and donating is really easy – the cord blood bank team do the rest after you have given birth.
“The last unit went to a 22-year-old patient in Holland to treat B cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
“We have been based at the maternity unit at Luton and Dunstable Hospital for 13 years. We chose this unit so that we collect cord blood from a wide ethnic mix of mothers to give us the greatest variety of tissue types for patients.”
The collection of cord blood does not interfere in the care of mother and baby during and following the birth. Cord blood bank staff only receive the placenta, which would be discarded, after the birth of baby once the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut and the placenta has been checked by the midwife.
NHS Blood and Transplant has NHS Cord Blood Banks in six hospitals around London. The donations are frozen and stored at the NHS Cord Blood Bank from where it can be sent to treat people worldwide.
Each year around 2,000 people in the UK need a lifesaving stem cell transplant. Visit www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/cordblood to find out more about donating cord blood.
• NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. NHSBT are responsible for ensuring a safe and efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England. NHSBT are also the organ donation organisation for the UK and are responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
• NHS Blood and Transplant are an essential part of the NHS and take pride in saving and improving lives by making the most of every voluntary donation, from blood and organs to tissues and stem cells.
• Their work would not be possible without their donors - ordinary people doing extraordinary things by saving and improving the lives of others.
• To find out more visit: www.nhsbt.nhs.uk
• Follow NHS Blood and Transplant on social media
o Twitter: @NHSBT
o Facebook: www.facebook.com/nhsbloodandtransplant
• The British Bone Marrow Registry (BBMR), run by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), is part of the Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry and works in co-operation with other UK and worldwide bone marrow/stem cell registries to provide stem cell donors for patients in need.
• A donor can ask to join by informing a member of staff when they donate blood and must fall in to one of the following categories:
o Caucasian, male only, aged 17-40
o Black, Asian or Minority Ethnicity (BAME), either gender, aged 17-40
• You can join the BBMR when you next give blood, or at the same time as your first donation. We will check that there is no medical reason preventing you from being both a blood donor and a stem cell donor. At the time of your blood donation NHS Blood and Transplant will take an extra blood sample, so that they can identify your tissue type for the registry from your DNA - the genetic material our bodies are made up from. Please inform the staff at the blood donation session that you wish to join the BBMR before your blood donation is taken.
• The BBMR holds details of stem cell donors and cord blood donations from England, Scotland, North Wales and Northern Ireland. It is responsible for recruiting, testing and registering blood donors who volunteer to become stem cell donors. It is also part of an international network, performing searches around the world to find suitable stem cell donors.