TORONTO, November 24, 2003 ( – Stem cells obtained from umbilical cord blood, one of the main answers to the ethical and moral problems associated with embryonic stem cell research, are actually simple to collect and store.  Dr Peter Hollands, Scientific Director of Cells for Life, an umbilical cord blood bank in Ontario, described to the importance of umbilical cord blood for stem cells and also the simple process involved in their storage.  “When a baby is delivered, and the umbilical cord is cut, there is still a large amount of blood in the umbilical cord. This blood contains the life giving stem cells which could potentially one day save that baby’s life,” explained Dr. Hollands.  “Stem cells are cells that are capable of replacing diseased, damaged or simply old tissue. They are present in everyone on this planet and are responsible for replacing blood cells, skin and the lining of our digestive system on a daily basis.”  In the case of the umbilical cord blood, he said, “the stem cells are in large numbers and they are capable of forming all of the cells of the blood system. Current research also shows that these cells can potentially repair damaged heart tissue following a heart attack and possibly be useful in the repair of damaged nerve cells.”  He concluded, “These cells are truly givers of life.”  Dr Hollands described the collection of umbilical cord blood stem cells as “very simple.”  He explained, “Once the baby has been born, and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut, it is simply a matter of putting a needle into the umbilical cord and allowing the blood to drain into a specially designed collection bag. The process takes no more than 2-5 minutes. It does not require any special training and it does not interfere in any way with the birthing process or different birthing practices. The bag is then placed into a shipping container and can either be brought to the laboratory by the parent or sent via courier. The blood sample does not need any special treatment, it is kept at room temperature and is stable for up to 72 hours following collection.”  The stem cell expert noted that “The collection of umbilical cord blood as described has no effect whatsoever on the baby or the mother.”“On arrival at the laboratory”, says Hollands, “the sample is carefully assessed and processed. This process enables the concentration of the life giving stem cells which are then frozen in liquid nitrogen. The stem cells are completely stable at this very low temperature and can be stored for many years.”  Incredibly, Dr. Hollands attests that “samples of umbilical cord stem cells have now been frozen for 15 years and on thawing they are as good as the day they were frozen.”  He concluded, “If the cells are needed to treat a disease in the individual or a direct relative, then the stem cells are released to the physician treating the individual precisely at the time they are needed. This means that there is no need to search for a suitable donor, a process which often fails or finds a donor when the disease is too far progressed for treatment.”  See a LifeSite special on questions to ask a cord blood storage company to ensure first class service:   See Dr. Hollands Cord Blood Bank website:   See related LifeSite coverage:  Canadian Stem Cell Expert Speaks Out on Adult vs. Embryo Stem Cell Research


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