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What is cord blood?


Rich in stem cells

Cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord following the birth of your baby. It is rich in blood stem cells, similar to those found in bone marrow, and these can be used to treat many different cancers, immune deficiencies and genetic disorders.

Stem cells are the ‘master cells’ of the body. Blood-producing stem cells (called haematopoietic stem cells) are present in cord blood. These cells are what we call 'unspecialised', which means that they have the ability to develop into those parts of the blood that the patient's body requires; whether red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets.

Cord blood transplants have been shown to cure patients with a variety of serious conditions:

  • Malignancies:

cancers of the blood, e.g. Leukaemia, lymphoma.

  • Bone marrow failure:

when bone marrow doesn't produce the cells it should.

  • Haemoglobinopathies:

blood disorders such as sickle cell anaemia or thalassaemia.

  • Immunodeficiencies:

when the immune system doesn't work properly.

  • Metabolic disorders:

these affect the breakdown of waste products in the body.

Life-saving potential

Following the birth of your baby, your placenta is normally thrown away along with the cord blood that is in it.

Thanks to scientific research in this field, we are constantly discovering more and more diseases and conditions that can be successfully treated with stem cells found within cord blood.

For the transplant to be a success, stem cells taken from the cord blood must match the patient's tissue type as closely as possible. So, for patients to have the best chance of a 'match' we need to store as many cord blood donations as possible, and we can't do this without you.

If your cord blood is not collected by our trained staff, and you have not made alternative arrangements for your cord to be collected privately, your placenta containing your cord blood will be thrown away, according to routine hospital practice.