Parents at the Jessop’s Wing of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital will have the option to privately collect and store stem cells from the umbilical cord, as of this month.
Smart cells, the UK’s first private cord blood bank, already offer the option for parents to store their baby’s cord blood for their own private use at three hospitals, under the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. This option for parents with the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the second, further widening the opportunity for expectant parents in the north.
The introduction of this service will also help to increase much-needed awareness on the importance of collecting critical umbilical cord blood stem cells at the time of birth and of storing them for future use.
The samples are taken at the time of birth from the umbilical cord and the collection procedure is both simple and non-invasive.
Cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after a baby is born, which are both usually thrown away after the birth. However, as this is a rich source of stem cells, it can be collected, processed and stored to be used later to help to treat many life-threatening conditions. Once the cord blood has been processed and frozen, it can be stored for 25 years or until it is required by the child or a family member who matches the sample.
As part of this initiative, maternity patients will be provided with information at The Royal Hallamshire’s Jessop’s Wing maternity wards at the start of their pregnancy journey, allowing them the time to understand the choices they have ahead of them.
A recent survey revealed that one in three parents did not know that they could store their child’s cord blood and tissue.