When expectant mum Samantha Blank from Houghton Regis was approached about blood cord donation – blood left in the placenta and umbilical cord – she thought she’d be ineligible because she had gestational diabetes.
Cord blood is rich in stem cells and can be used to cure leukaemia, immune disorders and other life-threatening illnesses, but the placenta and umbilical cord are usually discarded after birth.
Samantha was told that with gestational diabetes, the placenta is bigger – which means there are normally more stem cells.
The mother-of-two agreed to the donation because she felt the tissue would be going to a good cause instead of being thrown away: “I feel what happens at the cord bank is very special and I would encourage other mums to do the same to help others.”
Since the NHS Cord Blood Bank was set up at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital in 2004, more than 5,000 cord blood units have been collected and 90 have been issued for transplantation. The last went to a 22-year-old Dutch patient to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Team manager Tracy Harris said: “Many expectant mums may not realise the L&D is a collection site so we want to make them aware. This is a chance for them to help save a life and donating is really easy – our team does the rest after they have given birth.”
> More info at www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/cordblood