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England footballer and girlfriend donate umbilical cord blood to Anthony Nolan at Saint Mary's Hospital

England footballer James Milner has donated his baby's umbilical cord to the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, in the hope that it could one day cure someone with leukaemia.

The midfielder, who also plays for Manchester City, had a baby girl with his girlfriend, Amy Fletcher, on August 15.

The couple agreed to donate the umbilical cord blood to Anthony Nolan following the birth at Saint Mary's Hospital, in Manchester.

Stem cells from umbilical cord blood have become vital in the fight against blood cancer, as they can be used in a stem cell (or bone marrow) transplant, which is usually the patient's last chance of survival.

James Milner, 28, said: "Amy and I were delighted to support Anthony Nolan by donating the umbilical cord when our daughter was born in August.

"The process was very simple and easy and we would urge other parents-to-be to consider donating as well.

"We very much hope that the cord blood we donated will end up helping someone who needs a lifesaving stem cell transplant."

Amy added: "I heard about how the Anthony Nolan charity uses the cord after the birth and the benefits it provides.

"Working with James' charity, The James Milner Foundation, I have realised the importance of supporting such good causes so I was more than happy to donate the cord."

Anthony Nolan, which runs the UK's bone marrow donor register, allows new parents to donate umbilical cord blood at eight hospitals in Manchester, London, Nottingham, Birmingham and Leicester.

The charity banks the donated blood for hospitals to use in stem cell transplants for patients with blood cancer.

So far, more than 10,000 mothers have donated their cord blood to Anthony Nolan and 30 cords from the charity's bank have been used in potentially lifesaving transplants.

If the cord blood is not banked in this way, the potentially lifesaving product is simply thrown away.

Donating is simple and quick and does not affect the birth.

Lizzie King, Head of Cord at Anthony Nolan, said: "We are delighted that James and Amy decided to donate the cord after their daughter's birth and would like to thank them for doing so.

"Cord blood can be a lifeline for many people, especially those with rare tissue types, who have less chance of finding an unrelated adult donor through the bone marrow register.

"People are often surprised to find out how easy it is to donate cord blood. It's simple, risk-free, and won't affect your birthing plan - in fact, most new mums usually tell us they hardly knew we were there!"

Diane Davies, Anthony Nolan Specialist Midwife at Saint Mary's Hospital, Manchester added: "We feel extremely proud to be able to offer the women choosing to have their baby at Saint Mary's the opportunity to donate their cord blood. Since opening the collection centre in May this year we are delighted that over 800 women have consented to donate, which is more than 50 per cent of the women we approach."

For more information, visit www.anthonynolan.org/cord