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Tag Archive: Case Studies

  1. Cord blood banking matters to me: Ricky and Gemma Martin

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    Congratulations on the imminent birth of your second child.

    How are you all?

    Thank you. We are all well and a great mix of excited, nervous and curious all in one while we wait for the arrival of the next addition to our household. This time around it is a little girl, so Alexander has a big job to step up to being a big brother and protecting his little sister (as does his dad as the father of a daughter to be).

    Alexander will be two in November. What does he think of having a new baby sister?

    We have explained to Alexander (AJ as we refer to him which is short for “Alexander James” Martin) what he has to look forward to, but being as young as he is, I cannot say he fully comprehends it yet.

     That said, we have finally got him to say “baby” every time we point to his mum’s belly, which he finds hilarious, so much so, he is constantly pulling up his top, my top, his mum’s top and says baby non-stop. Hopefully, long term, he realises that somebody’s stomach isn’t called a baby, it is just his mum’s had a baby in it while we taught him the word 

    Life is going to be very busy with two children under two years old! Have you picked up any good tips for new parents?

    Great question, however, the reality is not really. I think the best piece of advice every parent of two very young children has given us is ‘Good Luck’! The funny thing is everybody said that the first time also!

    As a result we have stopped asking and figured what will be will be. The one thing we have done to prepare is to make sure AJ’s new “big boy” room is all set up ready to transfer him to when out little girl moves to the nursery, and he graduates to his dinosaur adventure room.

    How have you found your first two years as new parents?

    The first two years has been like a fun rollercoaster we will never forget. Ups, downs, twists, thrills, laughs, cries, it had it all. We both definitely think the last two years have aged us by about five. However, what an experience it has been which has brought a new sense of living to our worlds.

     It has grounded us for sure (before we went wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted without thought). However, the purpose, love and new world it has opened up to us has been nothing but incredible. It hasn’t been easy, but nothing in life worth having ever is. We feel so lucky to have AJ in our world.

    Alexander was born after four rounds of IVF, and your second child has been a very happy surprise. How did you feel when you discovered you were pregnant again?

    No fertility journey is straight forward and after the years of battling to have our first child, and almost giving up on occasions, the surprise when things happened naturally with our second came as one big surprise.

     It’s one which of course we are extremely grateful for, and we realise how lucky we are. Only three years ago we thought we would never get to be called parents at all, let alone twice over, and now we’ll have one of each to enjoy and guide in the world. 

    Lots of people said to us after AJ came in to the world that the chances are if we had another it would be natural.

    However, even hearing that after fighting so hard the first time it did not provide confidence. So when we found out, the surprise was just as big and just as miraculous and one we still cannot fully comprehend today.

    IVF can be very difficult for couples and you were very open about your own journey which has inspired other couples. Why do you feel this is important?

    A fertility journey is a lonely and tough one at the best of times. That is before you even need to look for help from someone or somewhere reliable online. We really hope, and still do today, that any parts of our fertility story can help others and build some form of confidence; or at least provide insight to the fact people are not alone. Every single day there are millions of people on the journey, and the more people can do to talk to likeminded people or read and share their experience, the better for everyone.

    We’re so pleased you’ve chosen to bank your new baby’s umbilical cord blood with Biovault Family. Why did you choose us again?

    The simple answer we have here would be why would we not! That is not supposed to sound like a sell to anybody reading this but, the first time around you made the entire process simple, easy and not labour intensive at all (excuse the reference to labour ☹). I run a service company and the one thing I value more than anything is exceptional service. Biovault made us part of the family and provided just that.

    Why do you think banking your baby’s cord blood is important?

    I feel banking cord blood is so important and now I have had one child, I feel more strongly about this than ever. I now have a son who I would do anything to protect, support and provide for. If one day he needed some medical intervention to support his well being I would do everything in my power to ensure he got this. 

    Banking cord blood gives me one way I could do that. When we had AJ the logic in me said this made sense, as it would help if the worse case happened (which of course we hope we would not need it for). However, now the parent in me says this is an absolute no brainer.

    Newborn cell banking remains unfamiliar and misunderstood in this country. Why do you think this is?

    I think this is because most things in the scientific or medical field tend to turn people off as without a triple PhD most people do feel less certain about what it all means. Compound this with a newborn baby and I can see why people are unfamiliar or don’t want to understand more because their focus is on their baby.

    The reality is I don’t think it needs to be complicated or misunderstood. I can’t say many people know the inner workings of insurance and how things are priced or assessed. Most people do not want to have to use it either as it means you have had a claim and things are serious. That said  we all take insurance for that new car we buy. So why not do it for our newborn, which we cannot simply replace, repair or give back. Why not give our child the chance of critical media care if we one day need it? And the best thing is the price you pay for the service does not last a year – it is for decades!

    As a scientist yourself, how important is it to help spread awareness of umbilical cord blood banking?

    As a scientist I have always been fascinated with how things work and how things can be done better. Umbilical core blood banking is a simple way we can provide our child, children or even provide some support to parent (as such banking is 50% compatible with each parent) future medical protection. Why would somebody not want to give their family the best form of future care and this is a simple way of doing so. To spread awareness provides support for more people to follow suit, and hopefully live a better live, if the unexpected happens one day. 

    Do you think this service should be more widely accessible?

    I would love to see the service more widely available. As I have already referred to car insurance and protecting your shiny new vehicle, why shouldn’t we all protect and have some the most important part of our worlds. There is nothing more special than a child, and making it more available will only support every child’s future.

    Having won The Apprentice in 2012, you are now one of the most successful Apprentice winners. Can we ask, what is the secret to your success?

    It is funny you ask as it is so long ago that I forget I was even part of the process. That may sound like an odd thing to say but day to day life runs away with all of us, especially when running an international business and being father to a young family.

    Success is measured by so many things and likely a few years ago I would have said absolutely, I am the most successful winner based on company finances, performance, scope, scale and sustainability, however today you would get a different response. For me being able to grow a multi-site company while going through a fertility journey with my wife, then becoming a dad with no local family network to support, and successfully guiding AJ through the first 2 years of his life, that to me is successful. If that means I am the most successful winner… then yes I am 

    And finally, many of our friends would love to know, what is it like working with Sir Alan Sugar?

    I would love to spoil the illusion and tell people the reality is different to what they see on TV and we are the best of friends who cinema on weekends and chit chat over WhatsApp, however the TV and the day to day Lord Sugar (yep I am still saying Lord Sugar) are one and the same. A few years ago he published a book called “What You See Is What You Get” and those words couldn’t summarise the relationship better. If he doesn’t like something you know about it. If he does like something he probably wont say it in such reassuring words. But in a sales company I like working with black and white parameters which he presents. Too many people try to be too many colours in between sometimes and that simply confuses things. For me what I signed up for, is what I get, and that is what makes me happy.

  2. Born with a broken heart, and the cord blood to fix it

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    Congenital heart defects can now be treated using the child’s own umbilical cord blood instead of donor blood in newborn heart surgery, improving outcomes for babies and reducing anxiety in expectant parents.

    How can you get rid of a child that you feel inside yourself every second, listen to its movements and already love more than anything in the world?

    Svitlana, mother, Ukraine

    At her 20 week scan, Svitlana’s doctors told her that her unborn baby had congenital heart defects and recommended that she terminate her pregnancy. For the Svitlana this was unthinkable.

    Following referral to specialists in Kiev, Svitlana’s baby was diagnosed with “ventricular septal defect” and “transposition of the great vessels.” This time, however, her doctors didn’t suggest termination. They told her about the possibility of performing surgery on her son’s heart shortly after birth using umbilical cord blood. Svitlana did not hesitate for a moment.

    On September 25, 2009, Svitlana gave birth to a son, Ilya. The boy was immediately taken to the Center of Children’s Cardiology and Cardiosurgery, where he had open-heart surgery a few days later.

    During surgery, Ilya’s own umbilical cord blood was used to provide circulation, instead of relying on donor blood. The surgery went well. Mother and baby were discharged from the hospital promptly and Ilya started recovering faster than other children did after similar surgeries.

    Now Ilya is 10 years old. The boy is cheerful and active. “So lively and active that sometimes it annoys me,” Svitlana laughs. He rides a bike and skateboard and loves football. Every year the family visits the Kyiv Center of Children’s Cardiology and Cardiosurgery for Ilya’s check-up. The results comfort the parents, and Ilya loves the capital city and dreams of moving to Kyiv one day.

    “Now I don’t even want to remember the pain and fear we had to endure” Svitlana admits, “I only advise everyone I know to store umbilical cord blood to take care of the protection of children.”

    What is a ‘congenital heart defect’?

    Congenital describes a condition you a born with. Babies can be born with hearts that are under-developed or abnormal in a way that threatens their health. Heart defects vary from the minor to the immediately life-threatening. Some people don’t know they have a heart defect until they reach adulthood, while others sadly die during pregnancy or birth.

    How common is it to be born a heart defect?

    Around 8 in every 1,000 babies born in the UK are born with a heart defect.

    It has been estimated that there are 250,000 adults with a congenital heart defect in the UK.

    What are the chances of survival?

    Many people live with undetected or minor heart defects. However, heart defects are the most common cause of death from a birth defect and are responsible for twice as many deaths as childhood cancer.

    Babies born with a compromised heart may need their first open heart surgery at just a few hours or days old. They will need careful monitoring throughout life. Most will need multiple surgeries, some may even need a heart transplant.

    How can cord blood help babies with congenital heart defects?

    Compared to donated adult blood, umbilical cord blood is enriched with stem cells, is saturated with oxygen, and does not create an additional load on the patient’s immune system.

    The idea of using the child’s own umbilical cord blood instead of donor blood in newborn heart surgery was developed jointly by cardiac surgeon Ilya Emetz and the founder of HEMAFUND Yaroslav Isakov.


  3. Rafael Nadal to have stem cell treatment on injured back

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    Rafael Nadal is to receive stem cell treatment on his ailing back in Barcelona next week. The doctor of the 14-times grand slam winner said on Monday: “We are going to put cells in a joint in his spine.” He said that stem cells were recently extracted from Nadal for a cultivation process. “When we have them we will put them in the point of pain,” he said, with the goal of “regenerating cartilage, in the midterm, and producing an anti-inflammatory effect.”

    Angel Ruíz-Cotorro, who has worked as a doctor for Nadal for the past 14 years, said Nadal’s back pain is typical of tennis players and the treatment is meant to help repair cartilage and is similar to stem cell treatment Nadal received on his knee last year. He is expected to return to training in early December.

    Several NFL players and baseball players have received stem cell treatment. Nadal’s fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol, the centre for the Chicago Bulls, received stem cell treatment on his knee in 2013.

    To read more click here.

  4. Stem cells successfully treat severe burns

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    A new article in Stem Cell Research & Therapy confirms that stem cells like those found in the umbilical cord are “safe”, “effective” and have “great treatment potential” for large non-healing burns wounds.

    Wound healing is the most important determinant of post-burn survival. For decades, allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been suggested as a potential treatment for severe burn injuries.

    This new study describes a patient with a severe burn injury whose wounds did not heal with over 18 months of conventional burn care. When treated with MSCs, the patient’s wound healing accelerated and the patient suffered no adverse treatment complications over a 6-year follow-up period.

    Umbilical cord stem cells for burns

    The umbilical cord and amniotic membrane are abundant in MSCs, stem cells with the ability to transform and multiply into other human tissue cells.

    Collecting MSCs from umbilical cord tissue is non-invasive, non-controversial and low-cost. Cord tissue can be collected following birth, even in the case of delayed cord clamping and natural third stage, with no health implications for the mother or baby.

    MSCs from cord tissue can be easily grown and maintained in tissue culture. Once administered, these cells are able to migrate to the source of tissue damage to support stem cell repair.

    Additionally, thanks to their immunosuppressive properties, umbilical stem cells are able to withstand rejection and are associated with a low incidence of graft versus host disease.

    Case report: Patient with 70% burns

    The study focuses on a male in his mid-twenties who was admitted to a local, tertiary care centre with 70% TBSA burns, mostly full thickness. He had also sustained smoke inhalation injury as a result of a house fire.

    The patient had sustained burns to the chest, back, bilateral arms, hands, thighs, feet, and buttocks. Initial surgeries included escharotomy and amputation of both feet. The patient had a total of 13 surgeries for excision and application of skin grafts, a tracheostomy, an ileostomy, and a percutaneous gastrostomy tube placement. During this time, the patient developed chronic infections with multi-drug resistant Pseudomonas. His pain management had also become increasingly complicated.

    Fig. 1

    Eighteen months post-injury, more than a third of the patient’s initial wounds remained open and were severely infected with bacteria. At this point, the patient was transferred to a specialized burn centre.

    Following stem cell therapy

    A novel treatment approach was needed to heal these wounds. The team (Marc G. Jeschke, Sarah Rehou, Matthew R. McCann & Shahriar Shahrokhi) decided to use umbilical stem cell transplantation from two donors, hoping to induce an immune response to clear the patient’s infection. The doctors also believed the cells would stimulate the release of growth factors which would accelerate wound healing.

    Three weeks postoperatively, the attending staff surgeon determined that the patient’s open wounds had decreased to approximately half of the original size and showed significantly decreased infection. The patient was given a second MSC injected at this stage. One week later, the patient’s open burn wounds had decreased to about one seventh.

    Two months after the second MSCs treatment, less than 3% of wounds remained open, at which point a final surgery was performed in order to autograft from the remaining wound using the patient’s scalp skin as donor. Five months after admission to the specialist burn centre and four and a half months since the initial MSCs treatment, the patient was discharged for rehabilitation care with no open wounds.

    At a 6-year follow-up, the patient was in excellent health with substantial amounts of complete epithelialization, particularly on the back, buttocks, and bilateral legs. Importantly, there was minimal hyperpigmentation and hypertrophic scarring. The patient maintained excellent ranges of motion and transitioned well into daily activities of living.

    Fig. 2

    The future of umbilical stem cells for burns

    The authors concluded that this case provides evidence that using mesenchymal stem cells for burns:

    • enables rapid healing of open wounds
    • avoids long-term consequences of hypertrophic scar formation, which inhibit mobility and have negative psychological effects

    The scientists argue that the study demonstrates the “immense potential of MSCs in the acute phase of burn care”.

    Future research should investigate the efficacy of MSC use in the severely burned patient on a large scale.

  5. Stem Cells for Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury & Paralysis

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    Spinal Cord Injury & Paralysis

    Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) changes people’s lives in an instant. Perhaps the most shocking of these injuries affect people who are highly active and in good physical health.

    Chris Barr is such a person. A passionate surfer, Chris’s first response when told he had been paralysed was to ask his wife, Debbie, to ‘pull the plug’.

    It was February 12, 2017. I went surfing like I had every weekend for ten years and I fell. I went headfirst into the ocean floor with enough force to break my neck in eight places. The worst of the break was at my C3 which means you stop breathing as well. So, paralyzed below my neck. (Chris Barr, 53)

    Spinal cord injury is a devastating condition with limited pharmacological treatment options to restore function. Chris didn’t hope to regain motor or sensory functions after his surfing accident: “The prognosis was — was bad… And bad meaning, you know, probably a 95 to 97% chance that I’ll have nothing below my neck.” His injury was labelled as American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale grade A.

    Regenerative therapies for paralysis

    Regenerative medicine using stem cells has been one avenue explored in recent years to seek for answers to paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries. 

    For this procedure, Chris underwent a stem cell therapy which had never been tried before. Stem cells were taken from his own body and transformed in the lab into spine cells.

    These stem cells were derived from adipose (fat) tissues. 100 million autologous AD-MSCs (stem cells from Chris’s own adipose tissue) were then injected into his spinal cord at the level of the lumbar spine 11 months after his spinal injury.

    With regular physiotherapy, Chris has regained his senses in the lower limbs and can walk on his own feet. Chris didn’t experience any severe adverse events. Chris was tested at 3, 6, 12, and 18 months following the injection in both motor and sensory scores based on International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury.

    The authors of the paper concluded that the stem cell therapy was ” feasible and safe and suggested meaningful signs of improved, rather than stabilized, neurologic status warranting further clinical evaluation.”

    We couldn’t thank them enough. Like, what you’re doing matters.
    You’re changing people’s lives.

    Debbie Barr, Chris’s wife

    According to Dr Bydon, despite the fact that not all may respond similarly, this study sparks hope among hundreds of thousands of individuals who suffer from traumatic spinal cord injuries each year and remain paralyzed for life.

    Bydon said, “The hope is that we will have novel treatments for spinal cord injuries in the coming years that will be different from what we have today. These will be therapies that do not rely upon supportive care, but therapies that rely on science to create a regenerative process for the spinal cord.”


  6. Stem Cell Transplant “a miracle” for Multiple Sclerosis Patients

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    Doctors have described the use of stem cells to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) as a “game changer” and have welcomed the results of an international trial showing that stem cells can leave patients symptom-free.

    “It feels like a miracle”

    Louise Willets has described how her life has been given back to her by a revolutionary treatment that uses stem cells to treat patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

    In an interview with BBC Medical Correspondent, Fergus Walsh, Louise described how “MS ruled my life”. Louise was just 28 when she was diagnosed with MS but found that she “lived in fear of the next relapse.”

    The worst time was not being able to get out of bed because I had no stability in my body – I struggled to walk and even spent time in a wheelchair. It also affected my cognition – it was like a brain fog and I misread words and struggled to keep up with conversations.

    Louise, now 36 is now symptom-free and told Walsh: “It feels like a miracle.”

    The BBC’s Panorama filmed Louise undergoing her transplant in October 2015. Now she is back to full health. She got married to her partner Steve, on the first anniversary of her transplant, and their baby daughter Joy is now a month old.

    I feel like my diagnosis was just a bad dream. I live every day as I want to, rather than planning my life around my MS.

    Multiple sclerosis

    100,000 people in the UK have MS, which attacks nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include:

    • vision distortion and impairment
    • difficulties with arm or leg movement
    • reduced or impaired sensations
    • difficulties with balance
    • Average life expectancy is slightly reduced

    “life-changing results”

    Over 100 patients took part in the international trial, in hospitals in Chicago, Sheffield, Uppsala and Sao Paulo. All had been diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS – where attacks or relapses are followed by periods of remission.

    The stem cell transplant involves using a cancer drug to destroy much of the patient’s damaged immune system before replenishing it with a transplant of healthy stem cells. The experience is gruelling and doctors have emphasised that it may not suit all patients.

    Dr Susan Kohlhaas, director of research at the MS Society, noted the “life-changing results” she had seen from haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) and said that the treatment “will soon be recognised as an established treatment in England”The transplant costs around £30,000, which is about the same as the annual price of some MS drugs.

    Cord blood treatments for MS

    Cord blood contains the same type of stem cells, haematopoietic stem cells, as doctors used to treat Louise. The stem cells in cord blood are younger, healthier and less likely to result in complications such as graft-versus-host disease than those in bone marrow. Cord blood stem cells can also be collected and stored for decades so that they are available should any member of the family become unwell.

    The Parents Guide to Cord Blood has explained the potential for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis to be treated with cord blood:

    today’s adult patients are undergoing autologous transplants with stem cells harvested from their bone marrow or peripheral blood, today’s children could use their own cord blood for autologous transplants if they develop an autoimmune disease later in life. Another advantage of patients using their own stem cells is that the transplant requires less severe chemotherapy conditioning, which decreases the risk of complications such as life-threatening infections.

    Find out how to store umbilical stem cells to treat MS and many other life-threatening and limiting conditions




    Parents’ Guide to Cord Blood

    MS Society

  7. Caroline Wyatt: MS ‘brain fog’ lifted after stem cell treatment

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    BBC journalist Caroline Wyatt has spoken of how the “brain fog began to lift” after she had pioneering treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS).

    The former BBC defence correspondent was deemed unsuitable for an NHS trial and paid $60,000 (£48,000) for a stem cell transplant in Mexico in January. Wyatt, 49, told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme that she was “feeling better than I have done in a long time”. She also spoke of how it had taken 25 years for doctors to diagnose her MS.

    About 100,000 people in the UK are affected by MS, an incurable lifelong condition that can cause numbness, tingling in the fingers and people may struggle to walk or think clearly. It can also affect vision, cause stiffness and spasms, tremors and cognitive difficulties.

    Stem Cell Therapy for MS: How it works

    Wyatt decided to go to a private hospital in Puebla, Mexico, after talking to former patients, who had undergone a course of chemotherapy and transplanting stem cells.

    “The chemo was to burn out the old faulty immune system so that you can have your stem cells harvested – and then brought back into the system,” she said. “This helps you to grow a new immune system which I hope will not have the faults of the old one.”

    She said some of the patients who had had the haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) treatment had spoken of “near miraculous results”.

    Does stem cell therapy for MS work?

    “People who had been in wheelchairs, or people who had been struggling to walk or to think or to speak clearly had come back after the treatment and, if you were a lay person, you’d say they looked cured, if you were a medic, you’d probably say they were in remission. That inspired me to go.”

    “For me the results have been more gradual and gentle,” the former BBC religious affairs correspondent and PM presenter said. “Three weeks since coming back I am feeling better than I have done for a long time,” she added. “The main thing that happened was that the brain fog began to lift.”

    Wyatt said that although UK bodies such as the NHS and watchdog NICE describe the treatment as experimental, about 80% of people who had the treatment responded to some degree and more than 50% saw the progression of their MS halted.

    The charity the MS Society says the treatment could have long-term benefits for some people with MS but that larger studies are needed to better understand the impact of this aggressive treatment compared with existing therapies.

    Seeking MS diagnosis and treatment

    Wyatt, who first noticed some of the symptoms in 1990, said: “It is a very difficult disease to get diagnosed. “Because I was a journalist when I went to doctors they said, ‘Ah, you’ve got repetitive strain injury’.”

    She changed jobs but, following a relapse in 2001, she was given a brain scan and told she might have MS – a diagnosis that was confirmed following more invasive tests such as a spinal tap in 2015. Wyatt initially tried various drug treatments but as her condition began to deteriorate she began to investigate the stem cell treatment. “I got in touch with Sheffield who were the British arm of a trial… and they very kindly agreed to see me,” she said. “They did various tests but decided in the end that medically speaking I was not one of the best candidates so they couldn’t do it here.”

    For the full article, please click here.

    Find out more about storing stem cells for the treatment of MS and other neurological conditions.

  8. Autologous cord blood transplant for Aplastic Anaemia

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    In this article first published by the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation as Henrique was Saved by his Own Cord Blood, Henrique’s parents explain how their son’s life was saved thanks to their decision to store his cord blood at birth.

    This photo of Henrique was taken by the river, in Lisbon, Portugal, a few days after he was discharged from the hospital. Henrique is in remission from severe aplastic anaemia following a stem cell transplant with his own umbilical cord blood. It was the first time that autologous cord blood was used to treat aplastic anaemia in Portugal.

    Henrique’s mother says, “Fourteen years ago, when I was pregnant with Guilherme, a family member told us about stem cell cryopreservation and Crioestaminal. People were starting to talk about this option in Portugal, but we found the idea interesting mainly because science is evolving so quickly and we didn’t know what the future held. It was a different health insurance.”

    Find out more about cryopreserving your child’s cord blood with Biovault Family in the UK

    “When Henrique was born 9 years later, we decided to save the cells again, not only for the sake of equality between our children, but also because we continue to believe that the future of some areas of medicine can pass through stem cells.

    Both pregnancies proceeded normally and without any problems, and both boys were born and raised healthy, so nothing made us predict Henrique’s disease.”

    What is aplastic anaemia?

    Aplastic anaemia is a rare and serious disease that occurs when the patient’s bone marrow fails to produce enough blood cells, causing anaemia, bleeding, and infections. Most of the time, the cause is unknown. It is suspected that aplastic anaemia can be triggered when the body over-reacts to an infection and develops an auto-immune attack on the bone marrow. There are only 2-7 cases of aplastic anaemia per million people in a year. When aplastic anaemia does develop, the only way to stop it is to reset the immune system with a stem cell transplant.

    How was Henrique treated?

    Henrique is a typical toddler who likes dinosaurs, building games, and superheroes. He also likes to watch TV, especially Paw Patrol. Last winter, when Henrique became very sick with aplastic anaemia, he was first hospitalized at Dona Estefânia Pediatric Hospital in Lisbon. In preparation for his transplant, Henrique was transferred to the Lisbon Instituto Português de Oncologia (IPO), where he underwent chemotherapy. Henrique’s cord blood was the 10th sample released by Crioestaminal for the treatment of a Portuguese child. Crioestaminal is the most experienced Portuguese laboratory in the release of cord blood samples for the treatment of various diseases.

    The transplant took place at IPO on 5 April 2019, and afterwards, Henrique’s white blood cell count and other haematological parameters began to recover rapidly. Henrique was discharged from the hospital within a month after the transplant, but he is still followed closely by his medical teams at IPO and the pediatric hospital.

    How is Henrique now?

    The doctors are very pleased with Henrique’s clinical evolution and consider the outcome of his transplant gratifying. The second photo taken in summer 2019 shows Henrique, age 4, with his 13-year-old brother Guilherme. Henrique often wears a mask in public places to protect him from germs while his immune system is rebuilding. Henrique’s mother says, “Luckily we made a good choice in cryopreserving stem cells.”

    For unbiased advice and information on cord blood banking, visit Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation at

    Request a Biovault Family brochure

  9. Storing my son’s cord blood gives me confidence, Ricky Martin explains in an exclusive interview

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    Almost a year after the birth of his first son, scientist and business leader Ricky Martin is overjoyed to be a father. But the 2012 winner of The Apprentice is also frustrated that umbilical cord stem cell storage, a life-saving service, is still under-reported, misrepresented and under-used in the UK.

    In the second part of this exclusive Cord Blood Matters story, Ricky shares his experience of cord blood and tissue storage and explains why it is so important to him to raise awareness about scientific advances in healthcare.

    Science can give more families a healthy future

    If you’re a parent, you’ll know exactly what Ricky Martin means when he says his baby’s birth felt like ‘a miracle’. Ricky is very open about the joy his wife Gemma and son Alexander have brought into his life, but he is also every inch the scientist and business leader and doesn’t make decisions lightly or without a great deal of research.

    Gemma and Ricky have been very open about their IVF journey to parenthood, and are very aware that their happiness has in part been enabled by scientific advances. Over the past year, it has been Biovault Family’s privilege to get to know Gemma and Ricky and to support them in storing Alexander’s cord blood and tissue stem cells. The couple now hopes to raise awareness around umbilical stem cells so that more parents have the opportunity to store their own babies’ potentially life-saving cord blood and tissue, beginning with sharing their own personal story. Here we ask Ricky some key questions surrounding umbilical stem cells and include his unedited answers in full.

    How did your decision to store cord blood and tissue affect your birth preparations?

    “Based on agreeing to collaborate with Biovault for the collection and storage of Alexander’s cord blood and tissue, one of the biggest concerns I had was how it would impact our birthing plan. Being first-time parents Gemma and I had no idea what to expect with the labour process anyhow, so to start adding things that were not the norm and commonly spoken about in NCT did worry us to begin with. That said, these were my feelings going into it, but the reality is it could not be any easier. After a few calls with the Biovault team my reservations were put to rest and all it required was one additional point to add to our birthing plan which I made aware to the midwives on the day.

    Simple, straightforward and so much easier than I could have expected.

    How did the collection affect your experience during Gemma’s labour, Alexander’s birth and your family time after his birth?

    The collection made pretty much no difference to the labour experience. As Gemma’s birthing partner it was my role to ensure that the collection was looked after and with two simple phone calls (one to notify our private Phlebotomist that things were starting to happen, and one to the courier to come and collect after the birth of Alexander) everything was sorted.

    I did not need to do anything else other than be the most supportive person I could to my wife who was in the process of performing a miracle (well that’s what I call it anyhow as after rounds of IVF the birth of Alexander was a miracle in my eyes).

    See our ‘How it works’ page to find out how we collect, process and store cord blood and tissue

    What does having access to Alexander’s stem cells and cord tissue mean to you as a dad?

    One word – confidence!

    I have the confidence that if anything unexpected happens I have the support of science to give him the best possible chance of help. After trusting science to help us bring Alexander in to the world (via IVF) I am again trusting science to help us keep him in this world, if we ever need to call on his stem cells or core tissue.

    I wanted to be a dad for many years, and I will do anything it takes to ensure I can help my beautiful little man have the best possible future, and having access to these gives me the confidence I can do so. 

    What does it mean to you as a scientist? 

    The same word again – confidence. I am a Biochemist and spent the majority of my adult life putting my faith and commitment to science to make the world a better place.

    I see this as being no different than another commitment to science to give my little man a life to lead. I am more confident in this by trusting the science of stem cells and cord tissue.

    As you know, umbilical stem cells are now being trialled and used for a range of life-enhancing treatments such as sports injury repairs, as well as therapies for more serious conditions. Was this a factor in your decision? 

    To be honest it was not. My decision was mainly based on more serious conditions.

    Cord blood stem cells are used to treat diseases that affect the blood and immune systems such as leukaemia and neuroblastoma.

    I was completely unaware of this additional benefit at the time and it is a brilliant example of just how quickly science and the use of stem cells is developing. Reality is one day we may call on Alexander’s stem cells or cord tissue for some therapeutic benefit, but today it is hard to predict what for.

    All I know we have maximised our chances for whatever the use will be by doing this.

    And as somebody who is very keen for his son to get involved in competitive sports, this is music to my ears. That said I don’t think his mum is that keen is he follows his dad’s footsteps of being a professional wrestler which is what I did in my earlier career ☺

    What was your experience with Biovault Family like? Is there anything we could do to improve our service to dads like you?

    What Biovault did so well, was make me feel part of their family. It may sound cheesy to say that and it may sound like a sell on their behalf, but it genuinely was the truth.

    Biovault put me at ease, took a look of the burden away from me and most importantly, like any good family member, actually cared about our journey. I looked at looks of different companies to support me with blood cell and cord tissue collection and storage, however, most made me feel like part of a money-making machine which focused on cost, over care. I don’t think I would have even progressed with these services if care was not the number one thing.

    The only thing Biovault could have done differently is show-case clear examples of stories of people using their services. The great news however is they now are, and this is where I hope Alexander’s story is. Alexander the great is how I refer to him ☺

    Why are you sharing your story? 

    I am sharing as despite being a scientist, and probably more informed on such services than others, I still feel there is an educational piece missing in the market.

    These services come under more scrutiny than they do positive publicity, and it has to change. Gemma and I were lucky enough to have a child and we called upon multiple rounds of IVF to help, with science guiding the way.

    Discover the science of umbilical cord blood and tissue stem cells

    There are many others either on or about to start, a fertility battle with the desire of having a child. I feel our story of wanting to safeguard the future of our little one, is something which comes on behalf of anybody who has a fertility battle (successful or not) as it’s the right thing to do for life’s biggest miracle and what we all would do if possible. We will never take for granted our little man, and this is a step of how we are showing that.

    Read more Cord Blood Matters stories written by Biovault Family clients

    Thank you to Ricky Martin, Gemma and Alexander for sharing your story and permission to share your beautiful family photos.