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Cost free stem cell storage programme gives hope to South African families affected by life-threatening blood disorders

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  • Category Advice Column, Health, Lifestyle, Pregnancy, Pregnancy & Baby

Storing umbilical cord blood stem cells at birth could prove to be a live-saving investment for the child, or a sibling, diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disorder, treatable by a stem cell transplant. However, not everyone chooses to bank their baby’s cord blood stem cells.

Cryo-Save South Africa, a private cord blood stem cell bank located in Pretoria, has recognised the plighn t of families who have a child with a blood disorder that can be treated with a stem cell transplant. It provides hope to families affected by leukaemia, other forms of blood cancers, and blood disorders such as sickle cell disease, through its Cost-Free Donation Programme.

Three years ago, South Africans Charlene and Ralph Subbarayan’s first-born son, then aged five, was diagnosed with leukaemia. He was frequently hospitalised and only recently completed his treatment. During this time, although unplanned and a wonderful surprise, Charlene fell pregnant with their second child. Both parents became extremely concerned as to whether their unborn child may also develop cancer in future.

“My husband and I began frantically researching cancer and it was on a visit to my gynaecologist that I picked up a Cryo-Save pamphlet right there in the waiting room. After reading, I immediately called the Cryo-Save’s Information Hub, who were more than willing to help us out – and for free!” explains Charlene.

To give hope to families in need, the Cryo-Save Cost-Free Donation Program is specifically designed to offer families affected by diseases that can be treated with blood stem cells, the opportunity to store the cord blood stem cells of their expected new-born child to potentially treat a sibling who has been diagnosed with a blood disorder

To qualify for the Cost-Free Donation Programme, a sibling of the unborn child must have been diagnosed with a disease that is currently treatable with umbilical cord blood stem cells (an FDA approved indication for transplantation) and must be being treated by a medical specialist (oncologist/haematologist), who agrees that the stem cells could be used for treatment.

If eligible, Cryo-Save will enrol the family into the Cost-Free Donation Program, provide the cord blood collection kit, and process and store (cryo-preserve) the new-born’s cord blood sample without any cost to the family.

“Storing my second child’s stem cells with Cryo-Save was such a phenomenal experience! I’m glad I did it. Stem cells are used to treat and cure several diseases and not just cancer. I would advise any parent who would like to store their child’s stem cells to definitely go for it, it is a must. Use our family as an example. My child, who was diagnosed with leukaemia three years ago, will be turning nine on the 14th of December. I am so grateful to have beautiful healthy children, I love my boys and I wouldn’t give up my stem cell storage experience for anything,” concludes Mrs Subbarayan.

Blood-forming stem cells are able to be collected not only from umbilical cord blood but also directly from bone marrow and from circulating blood. These stem cells have been used to treat more than 80 types of diseases ranging from blood cancers, metabolic diseases, bone marrow failure syndromes, to other blood and immune deficiency disorders.

Stem cells found in the blood of a baby’s umbilical cord and placenta are usually discarded at the time of birth, as both the cord and placenta are discarded as medical waste. Prospective mothers and fathers should consider the potentially life-saving investment they could make and the benefits of storing cord blood and cord tissue stem cells well in advance of giving birth.

Nothing in life is certain, but if we knew we could do something to help our children, why wouldn’t we? It is for this reason that Cryo-Save enables access to umbilical cord blood stem cell storage.

Visit for more information on stem cell collection and storage.

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