London gets new cord blood donation facility to support stem cell treatments

7 November 2011

A new specialist collection service for lifesaving cord blood started at University College Hospital (UCH) in London last week.

Cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after a baby is born. It is rich in stem cells that can help patients whose own bone marrow is not working due to disease or after receiving medical treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy for leukaemia or other cancers.

Expectant mothers register their interest as potential donors with the facility during their pregnancy and provide consent in advance for
collection, testing and use of the cord blood. The voluntary donations are stored in the NHS Cord Blood Bank in Bristol, which is also managed by NHSBT. The UCH facility will operate alongside those at St George's (Tooting), Barnet General, Watford General, Northwick Park, Luton and Dunstable Hospitals. 

Catherine Howell, Chief Nurse of Patient Services at NHSBT, said: "We are delighted to be opening our sixth cord blood collection facility at UCH and giving more mothers the opportunity to donate their cord blood to help seriously-ill patients who may not have found a suitable bone marrow match.

"The cord blood collection facility at UCH is one of a number of initiatives that has been made possible by £4m in funding from the Government, which was announced in the summer, as part of a collaboration between NHSBT and Anthony Nolan to deliver a number of improvements in stem cell services."

Pat O'Brien, clinical director for women's health at UCH, said: "This is a wonderful NHS initiative and we are delighted to be a part of it.  We are confident that this service will bring benefit to many patients in the future."

The six NHSBT collection sites are located in areas that serve ethnically diverse communities. Donor ethnicity is an important consideration when matching cord blood donations to a potential recipient as it increases the chance of a possible match. By focusing collection in these communities we will collect more cord blood donations from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities who currently have to wait longer to find a matched donor.

More information

To find out more about donating cord blood, go to:


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