When Philips Meehan, 43 of West Sussex was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2007 he needed a bone marrow transplant. But chances seemed meek as he had no family matches and a live donor could not be found despite a 6-month search by the Anthony Nolan Trust and the NHS.
It was then that Phillips was advised to go for the relatively new, but not experimental cord blood treatment. After a transplant later at the King’s College Hospital, Phillips, who is recovering to normalcy, can’t thank enough the unknown mother and baby who saved his life.
Henny Braund, chief executive of the Trust that gave realistic hope to Phillips, says that there are many more lives that cord blood can save “There are the benefits these stem cells offer to regenerative medicine and research. But at the moment we’re quite simply throwing away this opportunity. We do not have sufficient cord blood collection facilities in the UK, so valuable cord blood is being wasted once a mother has given birth.”
He also said that the trust imported 268 cord blood units from abroad for a transplant which could have been easily raised at home at a reduced cost.
According to Professor Ghulam Mufti, director of pathology at King’s College Hospital cord cells are a fantastic resource as they have the ability to create a whole range of cells for the blood and the immune system. He stressed the fact that cord blood transplant was a much viable option because unlike bone marrow, where the match has to be at least 95%, cord blood transplant works even if the match is about 70-80%.
Just like Phillips who had just one match that worked, there can be many more patients who can benefit from cord blood transplants. In his words, “Taking cord blood does not impinge on the mother or baby – it is just recycling.”
“Due to the trust’s program of anonymity I will never know who they are, but I will always be grateful and wish them the same hope for a long life and a healthy future as they gave me,” he added. – Atula, Staff Writer
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