Awareness needed on cord blood donation

More than 1.2 lakh people in India are diagnosed with blood cancer every year. Of which, 30 per cent – or around 36,000 – are children. At least 10,000 new cases of thalassaemia, an inherited blood disorder that requires constant blood transfusions, are diagnosed here annually.

Treatment for such patients will become a lot more easier if there was awareness among the public to donate umbilical cord blood, which many consider as a biological medical waste, according to P. Srinivasan, Chairman of Jeevan Stem Cell Bank.

He told reporters here on Saturday that at present the umbilical cord blood –rich in stem cells – and placenta that is collected after the baby is delivered were being discarded. They could be used to harvest the stem cells that could save innumerable lives.

Jeevan Stem Cell Bank was given a grant of Rs. 9 crore by the State Government in April to process 3,000 units of cord blood within three years. While 75 per cent of this will be given free of cost for economically-weaker sections, the funds generated by charging for the remaining patients will ensure the project remained financially viable even after the Government funding was depleted. He said that Tamil Nadu Government was probably the second government after the United States to provide public funding for cord blood banks.

At present, many Indian patients had to go abroad to find a stem cell donor with a matching human leukocyte antigen (HLA) with the probability of success standing only at 10 per cent. If public cord blood bank cells were to be established in India, the probability would rise to 60 per cent. The HLA matching is required without which the cells will be rejected by the recipient.

Tamil Nadu was an ideal State for the project as it had good records of the patients’ medical history. The standards for accepting cord blood donations were more stringent than blood donation with blood samples of both the mother and the child tested before accepting the donation, said Dr. Srinivasan.

For more information contact phone: 97908 97918/89399 99214 or email tostemcell@jeevan.org.

With around 24,000 births in Coimbatore annually, Jeevan Blood Bank had tied up with Women’s Center here to create awareness in the city, with the objective of collecting at least 2,000 cord blood donations over the next two years.