Cord blood banking programme at Cambridge Hospital

A new cord blood banking programme is available for parents whose babies are born at the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge.

Parents having babies at the Rosie are now able to have the cord blood stem cells of their newborns collected and stored through a new arrangement with Virgin Health Bank (VHB).

Uniquely, in addition to its Family Banking service, VHB also provides a Community Banking service through which parents are able to donate some of the stem cells from their baby’s cord blood. Access to the donated cells is then given to Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) on a free of charge basis.

The Community Banking programme will increase the number of stem cell units available for transplant, improve the likelihood of finding suitably matched units for patients and significantly reduce the cost of sourcing units.

Cord blood is the blood remaining in the umbilical cord after a birth. It is a rich source of stem cells which, once collected and processed, can be used in clinical therapies to treat and cure a range of blood and immune system disorders.

If parents decide to bank their baby’s cord blood stem cells with VHB, the cord blood will be collected from the umbilical cord by hospital phlebotomists. It will then be transferred to Addenbrooke’s Stem Cell Laboratory to be processed and stored for up to 25 years.

VHB’s two services are its Community Banking service which costs £1,195 and incorporates the donation mechanism, and its Family Banking service which costs £1,695.

Dr Trevor Baglin, consultant haematologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital said: “This partnership does not mean that the Rosie is promoting private cord blood banking or VHB’s services but rather that we recognise the importance of empowering parents with accurate information and providing them with choice.

“Some parents are choosing to store their baby’s cord blood stem cells privately and VHB’s expertise in providing parents with education will empower them to make truly informed choices to donate to the Community or Family Banking services.

“Today the likelihood of a banked cord blood unit being required for treatment of the baby or close family member is low.

“However, through the altruistic donations of parents to the Community Banking programme, the availability of cord blood units for transplantation in matched unrelated patients worldwide provides a valuable resource to treat and save the lives of many more children and adults.”