Your baby’s birth is a patient’s hope for tomorrow.

stem cell umbilical cord after bird for blood cancers

Your baby is the beginning of all hopes and possibilities. Besides bringing joy into the family, these tiny little humans hold the power to save the lives of patients. Millions of blood forming stem cells that remain in their umbilical cord after birth is the key to treating over 80 types of blood cancers and other disorders. Read on to learn how you and your baby can enable patients to live on.

Cord blood transplant: Often the last chance for survival.

Recipients of cord blood from unrelated donors.
Recipients of cord blood from unrelated donors.

At 28 and newly married, the last thing Shou Zhu would have expected was to be diagnosed with Acute Leukaemia.

Her life took a drastic turn with hospitalisations, blood tests and two rounds of bone marrow stem cell transplants that did not graft well. As a last resort to save her life, her doctor suggested a cord blood transplant.

Fortunately for Shou Zhu, a matching stem cell unit was found in the Singapore Cord Blood Bank’s (SCBB) public cord blood inventory, where donated cord blood from newborns are stored. With this, she underwent an unrelated cord blood stem cell transplant which was successful. Today, Shou Zhu is healthy, and able to return to work and look after her family.

Many other patients, however, have to wait.

The cells used to create life can be used to save lives too.

Cord blood from babies’ umbilical cords and placentas are successfully and routinely being used to save lives for decades

Cord blood from babies’ umbilical cords and placentas are successfully and routinely being used to save lives for decades. It is effective in the treatments of over 80 diseases and disorders including leukaemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease.

Parents have 2 options for their baby’s cord blood – donate to the public bank for free, or pay to have it stored for their baby’s potential future use. In most cases, doctors do not recommend that patients use their own cord blood, as it may already carry the genetic abnormality that led to their disease. Cord blood from a healthy donor is a better option for treatment. As such, public donation will be more beneficial in helping a patient to find a life-saving stem cell match.

If parents do not make any decision pertaining to the cord, it will be discarded as medical waste after birth.

Blessing the community through her generosity.

Jannathnisha with her family - a family of heroes.

Meet Jannathnisha, a four-time cord blood donor.

As a Senior Staff Nurse at Outram Polyclinic, it was instinctive for her to donate her babies’ cord blood. “I never questioned ‘Why should I?’ but rather ‘Why not?’. It is wasteful to discard cord blood when I know it can help to save someone’s life.”.

Having worked as a nurse at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Jannathnisha was aware of, and understood the need for unrelated cord blood to treat various diseases. Since then, she and her husband had donated cord blood from all 4 babies. She also shared with friends and families about cord blood donation and referred them to SCBB.

Her younger sister, Shameemah, followed her footsteps and donated cord blood at her own baby’s birth too.

The mother of one shared, “It does not take much effort to sign up for donation and it takes only a few minutes for the cord blood to be collected. It is painless and safe for my baby and me. Why not donate when something that takes little effort could save a life?”

Like her elder sister, she has introduced public cord blood donation to her friends and hopes to influence more to do so.

More is needed.

Annually, SCBB receives about 5,000 donated cord blood units, of which only 15% are deemed suitable for a potential stem cell transplant and can be banked in the public inventory. This makes up just 12% of the total number of births in Singapore.

Ethnicity plays a major part in matching patients to donors. That being said, patients are more likely to find a match in donors of the same race as them.

Cord blood donation is painless and costs nothing. In the ideal future, any patient who needs blood stem cells for transplant can have access to a donor, and receive a second lease of life. Make cord blood donation your child’s first gift to patients in need!

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