Twenty-five nurses from Al Corniche Hospital in Abu Dhabi who collect umbilical cord at birth, recently underwent specialist training on advanced methods of cord blood collection.
The workshop was conducted by the Dubai Cord Blood and Research Centre( DCRC) and is part of a series of workshops that the centre is conducting this year.
The aim of the workshop is to ensure best quality samples are taken in the safest way possible and that enough cord blood is collected so that it can be stored, said a senior health official.
Fatma Al Hashimi, Head of Education and Development Unit at DCRC, said: “Umbilical cord blood contains valuable stem cells that are stored at public or private cord blood banks for potential medical procedures including leukaemia, treatment of genetic disorders such as thalassemia etc. Presently more than 80 diseases can be cured with the help of stem cells and therefore the culture of cord blood collection and storage is catching on.
She added that since the centre’s establishment in 2006, more than 3,000 units of cord blood, from the UAE and other countries, has been stored. Of these units, five were released for patients who needed them for life-saving transplantations.
Of these units used for successful transplantation, one of them was used for a five year old girl who suffered from Thalassemia.
The cord blood collected at the time of birth of her younger brother proved to be a match and in 2012 she went to UK for transplantation. “Today she is free of thalassemia. Prior to this procedure, she had to undergo regular blood transfusions,” said Hashemi.
She added that in 2012, since the establishment of the education department at DCRC, more than 700 units were collected, which is almost double the number of units collected in 2011. “This shows the direct impact of health education”, said Hashemi. “Today, mothers are aware of the benefit this simple procedure has and they understand that it is a form of health insurance for their families, which is why we are seeing a steady rise in the number of women who opt for cord blood collection at the time of birth.”