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Manchester campaigners hail ‘lifesaving’ umbilical cord collection centre

Have a baby, cure blood cancer: how mums-to-be in Manchester can save a life, thanks to new Anthony Nolan centre

New mums in Manchester now have the opportunity to give life twice in one day, by donating their umbilical cord blood to someone in desperate need of a stem cell transplant.

Pioneering blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan has opened a new cord blood collection centre in Saint Mary's Hospital in Manchester, thanks to funding from the Government's Regional Growth Fund. It means that pregnant women in the city could save a life, simply by donating something that is normally thrown away - with no hassle or risk to the mother or baby.

Anthony Nolan launch #1

The news has been hailed as a victory for local campaigners, who have been calling for a Manchester centre for years.

Paula Solomon from Manchester embarked on a campaign after being told her son Martin, who was originally diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2007 and then relapsed five years later, would need a lifesaving stem cell transplant. Cord blood would be his best option, according to the experts.

Mrs Solomon and her local MP, the late Paul Goggins, were pivotal in pushing for improvements to stem cell collection facilities in her home city of Manchester.

Paula said: 'It's impossible to put into words what this centre means to us. Martin is in remission and I pray he always will be. But if he does relapse again, we've been told cord blood would be a better option for Martin than an adult stem cell donor, given his ethnic origin and complex DNA. I know that most new mums would love the opportunity to save the life of a person like Martin, so it is amazing that women in Manchester have now been given this chance.'

Collection of cord blood is vital in the fight against blood cancers such as leukaemia. For many people with these conditions, a stem cell transplant is their only hope of a cure. The blood from umbilical cords is rich in potentially life-saving stem cells that can be used in a transplant, but all too often is discarded.

The centre at Saint Mary's Hospital is the latest in an initiative by Anthony Nolan to open three new centres in the UK, thanks to the £1.7 million funding from the Government's Regional Growth Fund.

Anthony Nolan chose Manchester as a base for the new centre due to the city's wide ethnic mix and high birth rates.

Dr Ed Johnstone, a clinical senior lecturer at Saint Mary's Hospital who has been instrumental in helping Anthony Nolan set up the centre, has said: 'It is wonderful to see everyone's hard work come to fruition. The establishment of the cord collection centre at Saint Mary's will be life-changing for many families, particularly those from black and ethnic minority communities, who have less chance of finding an adult donor through the register.'

Anthony Nolan is now urging pregnant women who are due to give birth at Saint Mary's to donate their umbilical cord blood.

Diane Davies, Midwife Supervisor for Anthony Nolan's new cord blood collection programme in Manchester, said: 'Many pregnant women are surprised to find out that it's so simple to donate their cord blood and that it doesn't affect the birth of their baby at all. In fact, most women say they hardly even know we're there and that it can make their day even more special in the knowledge that their newborn baby could be giving someone else a chance of life.'

If you are pregnant and plan to have your baby at Saint Mary's Hospital, find out more about donating your cord blood at www.anthonynolan.org/cord or email cordblood@anthonynolan.org.

ENDS

For more information, contact Emily Rosselli at Anthony Nolan on Emily.rosselli@anthonynolan.org or 0207 4246 588. For urgent out of hours enquiries, call 0844 840 0103 or email press@anthonynolan.org.

About Anthony Nolan

  • Anthony Nolan is a pioneering blood cancer charity that matches potential bone marrow donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant
  • Shirley Nolan, whose son Anthony needed a transplant, set up the world's first bone marrow register in 1974. The charity is now celebrating its 40th anniversary
  • Please note: Anthony Nolan has dropped the 'Trust' from its name

Key statistics

  • Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer
  • Around 1,800 people in the UK need a bone marrow (or stem cell) transplant each year.  This is usually their last chance of survival
  • 63% of UK patients will not find a matching donor from within their families; instead they turn to us to find them an unrelated donor.
  • We want to find a match for everyone who needs a transplant. Cord blood can help us achieve this.

About Anthony Nolan's cord blood programme

Anthony Nolan collects cord blood at hospitals in Manchester, London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Leicester. We work closely with the NHS cord programme to make sure that, together, we're meeting the UK need for cord blood.

For more information, go to www.anthonynolan.org/cord.

About the Government's Regional Growth Fund

The Government's Regional Growth Fund is a £3.2 billion fund designed to help companies in England to grow and supports projects and programmes committed to deliver sustainable jobs and economic growth. A sixth round will launch in summer. For more information, please go to www.bis.gov.uk/rgf.