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Expectant parents at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth will be able to choose to bank umbilical cord blood stem cells thanks to a groundbreaking new partnership.

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust has partnered with Biovault Family to give expectant parents the choice of paying to bank cord blood, which could be used in the future to treat conditions such as leukaemia and cerebral palsy.

Cord blood stem cells are unique in that they can renew or differentiate into a variety of specialised cells and can therefore be used to treat many diseases. Under the new arrangement, Midwives can collect the cord blood in a short and painless procedure immediately after birth. They are then processed, cryogenically frozen and stored at Biovault’s hi-tech facility at Plymouth International Business Park.

Sue Stock, Head of Midwifery at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The umbilical cord blood collection procedure is completely safe and poses no risk to mum or baby. The banking of cord blood could potentially provide lifesaving treatment for that baby or a matching family member in the future so we are really pleased to offer expectant parents this option.”

Dr Joanna Tilley, Technical Director at Biovault Family said: “Cord blood stem cells are currently being used to treat a wide variety of diseases and disorders, and research is continuing to extend the list of treatable diseases year on year. Partnering with Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust means that more people will have this important option available to them to help protect their family in the future.”

As the most highly accredited private cord blood and tissue bank in the UK, Biovault already has an established relationship with the NHS as the tissue bank for the NHS South West Peninsula Transplantation Service for peripheral blood and bone marrow stem cells.

For more information on this service please call Lydia on 01752 753723.