Blood from the umbilical cord and placenta normally discarded after a birth can save the lives of people with life threatening disease.
The L&D Hospital is one of only six UK Hospitals involved in supporting the NHS Cord Blood Bank.
In the past ten years, over 8,000 women who have given birth at the L&D Hospital have donated samples to the NHS Cord Blood Bank, which was established in 1996 to provide a life saving service.
Cord blood which remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after a baby is born is rich in stem cells, which can help to restore the function of a patient’s immune and blood producing systems. It is a safe alternative to using bone marrow, with the advantage of being immediately available when required for stem cell transplant.
The NHS Cord Blood Bank collects, processes, stores and supplies the cord blood and provides a donation service at six hospitals with dedicated, trained staff.
When a mother donates cord blood, staff from the NHS Cord Blood Bank collect the placenta with umbilical cord from the midwife after the birth and collect the cord blood which is then stored until it is needed by a patient for a stem cell transplant.
Following the successful collection of cord blood, staff will talk to the new mum to ask some routine questions and take a blood sample from the mother for analysis. No blood is taken from the baby, just a sample from the mother.
The blood samples are tested, in the same way as the National Blood Service test blood donors, for HIV, hepatitis, syphilis and some other blood borne infections. These tests are carried out to ensure that the cord blood is safe to be given to a patient. In the unlikely event that any test result is positive, a doctor will contact the woman to offer appropriate advice.
Donors receive a follow-up telephone call from NHS Cord Bank staff around 12 weeks after the birth to check that mum and baby are well.
The NHS Cord Blood Bank operates at the following hospitals: Barnet General, Northwick Park, Luton & Dunstable University Hospital, Watford General, St George’s Tooting and University College Hospital, London.