Heard about a free stem cell bank in Chennai?

CHENNAI: There is a public stem cell bank in Chennai where people can donate stem cell stems, but most clinicians and people are unaware of it.

In her presentation at the 58th All India Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dr Saranya Narayan, medical director and co-founder of Jeevan Stem Cell Bank, said many clinicians were not aware of the existence of the public stem cell bank in the city that could store stem cells for free of cost and help patients with hematological illnesses like thalassemia and blood cancer.

"The only operational public stem cell bank is in Chennai. We function with the grant from the Tamil Nadu government and help from the World Bank. But many clinicians are not aware of this public bank," the doctor said.

She explained that stem cell is separated from the umbilical cord blood which is collected during the birth of a baby and is stored.

While awareness is important, the doctor had also observed that many clinicians feel that counselling families for donating cord blood is eating into their consultation time.

"We have sent our staff members for counselling families in some hospitals. But with the pamphlets and awareness material, it is easy to convince families to donate. We also found that some doctors say they do not have an infrastructure to collect cord blood. We give them the kit to collect the cord blood," she explained.

The lack of awareness among people on the benefits of stem cells leaves about 90 percent of cord blood ending up as a medical waste, the doctor said.

"There is a 60 to 80 percent success rate in stem cell transplant treatment for hematological illnesses. So a donor's stem cell is used on someone else with the illness. But if the donor or donor's family has an illness and needs it, they can approach us. We will either give the donor's own stem cells or find a suitable match and provide them at a concessional rate," Dr Saranya said.

While the level of donation of umbilical cord blood is low, the doctor noted that about 40 percent of cord blood donations are rejected for various reasons, including volume below 60ml, leaks from blood bag, large clots in blood bag and delay in transportation of the cord blood for preservation.

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Heard about a free stem cell bank in Chennai?

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