VIDEO: Centre to help save lives in Sheffield

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A centre offering vital therapies for patients with life-threatening blood disorders was officially opened today at a Sheffield hospital.

The Royal Hallamshire Hospital’s new therapeutic apheresis unit treats people with conditions such as leukaemia and myeloma, running a 24-hour service.

Patient Mark Ritson and Professor John Snowden in the new unit

Patient Mark Ritson and Professor John Snowden in the new unit

It is also the only centre outside of London which collects bone marrow stem cells for the Anthony Nolan charity.

Professor John Snowden, consultant haematologist and director of blood and marrow transplantation at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said the unit will ‘help to save lives’ - while patient Mark Ritson said the facility has made a ‘huge difference’.

The centre has relocated within the Royal Hallamshire site, providing more space and a better environment for patients and staff.

Prof Snowden said that originally stem cells - which create new, healthy cells - could only be harvested by sucking bone marrow out of the pelvis.

But now complex machines draw blood from a donor’s arm and filter out the stem cells, which are then transfused into the patient, ‘homing in’ on the bone marrow where they usually sit.

“For some diseases, the only chance of a cure is a stem cell transplant,” said Prof Snowden.

Mark, aged 47, from Crookes in Sheffield, suffers from severe aplastic anaemia, where the bone marrow does not make enough new blood cells. He has received a stem cell and bone marrow transplant for his condition.

“The outcome would have been very much worse had it not been for my treatment,” said the dad-of-one, who runs an engineering firm.

“The stem cell transplant has saved my life and, I suspect, helped me to see my baby daughter grow up.”

The unit is run by NHS Blood and Transplant and is one of six in England.