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1 NEWS RELEASE For Immediate Release For more information, please contact: Charlene Han Singapore Cord Blood Bank Tel: (65) Singapore Cord Blood Bank records 21 st life-saving transplant With over 4,500 cord blood units currently, SCBB offers ray of hope to patients needing life-saving stem cell transplants Singapore, 18 February 2009 This month, the Singapore Cord Blood Bank (SCBB) facilitated its 21 st cord blood transplant using its banked inventory of over 4,500 cord blood units. In addition, another five transplants are planned to take place before the end of March A life can be saved with every additional banked cord blood unit. Cord blood, a precious gift of life, used to be routinely discarded after the birth of a baby. Today, this gift, the blood from the umbilical cord can be collected after the baby's birth and donated to a public cord blood bank to help someone with a lifethreatening disease. Medical science now recognizes that cord blood is a rich source of stem cells, which can be collected, processed and cryogenically preserved for future potential life-saving cord blood transplants. According to Dr. William Hwang, Medical Director of SCBB and Senior Consultant, Dept. of Haematology, Singapore General Hospital, At least six people are diagnosed daily in Singapore with different types of blood-related diseases. Many of these patients will require a blood stem cell transplant in order to survive. As most of the major cord blood banks are established in Europe and the United States, this means that patients with Asian ancestry have difficulty finding a match. The SCBB was established to provide that unmet need for our Asian community. SINGAPORE CORD BLOOD BANK LIMITED c/o KK Women s & Children s Hospital 100 Bukit Timah Road, Women s Tower Basement 1, Unit 0B60A Singapore Tel: Fax: Reg No H

2 Singapore Cord Blood Bank (SCBB) SCBB is a public cord blood bank that recognises the unique genetic composition, with a goal to build a national resource for Singaporeans of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Pan-Asian origins. This will provide patients of Asian lineage in the South East Asia (SEA) region and around the world with a better chance of finding an adequate blood stem cell match. Since its establishment in 2005, SCBB has been working towards its goal of building South East Asia s biggest public cord blood bank of 10,000 units, offering hope to Asian and Pan-Asian patients across the globe. As the first and only public cord blood bank in South East Asia that is a member of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), SCBB is compliant to international public cord blood banking standards for processing, storing, retrieving and shipping of the highest quality and safety cord blood units. Every baby is unique, thus, the placenta and umbilical cord also differs. With cord blood donations from over 9,000 expectant mothers generously donated since 2004, over 4,500 cord blood units of highest safety and quality cord blood units can be used for a life-saving stem cell transplant. This is an achievement of 40% of the targeted 10,000 banked cord blood units. As such, the SCBB would like to invite more expectant mothers to consider cord blood donation. This will provide patients a better chance of finding a suitable unrelated cord blood donor match. SCBB caught its first glimpse of success in 2006, when the first unrelated cord blood unit from SCBB was used to treat two-year-old bubble boy Hoh Sin Jun. He was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), a potentially fatal disease in which the body is unable to fight infections. The non-profit organisation has since been able to offer the gift of hope and survival to patients of Asian lineage across the globe. The SCBB cord blood units have been released to countries as far as The Netherlands, America, amongst many others and to our neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Philippines. As Singapore s sole public cord blood bank, SCBB is also growing as the nation s crucial resource to stem cell transplant needs. It has played a part in 12 local stem cell transplants, 7 of which involved children. The SCBB News Release 18 Feb 2009 Page 2 of 5

3 Steven Sobak, Chief Executive Officer of SCBB, said, We are thankful for the steady influx of cord blood units donated by expectant mothers. In just four years of operation, SCBB has provided cord blood units to facilitate 21 stem cell transplants (13 in the past 10 months) in this global mission to save lives. We encourage expectant mothers to join us and be a part of this life-saving cause. Notes to Editor Stem Cells Stem cells are primitive cells found in various tissues of the body that can differentiate into the specific functional cells of certain tissues. They are the source of cells for tissue renewal and growth. Blood stem cells, or haematopoietic stem cells, are those that produce the steady stream of blood cells, such as white, and red cells, as well as platelets, used to keep the body healthy. Blood stem cells can be harvested from both umbilical cord blood and bone marrow. Umbilical cord blood represents the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta at the time of birth. The cord blood is a rich source of blood stem cells. These stem cells have been successfully used in the treatment of blood related cancers, immune and genetic diseases. After the baby has been delivered and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut, blood is drawn from the umbilical cord. This collection can only take place at the time of the delivery. There is absolutely no risk or pain to the mother or child during the collection process, since the blood is harvested from the cord once it has been cut. The procedure takes just a few minutes in the Delivery Room, immediately after the baby has been delivered, and before the placenta and umbilical cord are discarded. Stem Cell Transplants Stem cells are primarily used in transplant medicine to regenerate a patient's blood and immune system after the patient has been treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation to destroy the cancer cells. The SCBB News Release 18 Feb 2009 Page 3 of 5

4 While chemotherapy and radiation destroy the cancer cells in a patient, they also destroy the precious stem cells. Therefore, an infusion of stem cells or a stem cell transplant is performed after the chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment. The stem cells then migrate to the patient's bone marrow where they multiply and regenerate all of the cells necessary to create a new blood and immune system for the patient. The Need for Cord Blood Donation On any given day, more than 6,000 men, women and children are searching for a life-saving stem cell unit around the world. These patients have leukaemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases that can be treated by a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. For many of these patients, a transplant may be the best and only hope of a cure. National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) In Singapore, every year, about 60% of patients are not able to find a suitable stem cell match from bone marrow donors and other public cord blood banks. Likewise, about 65 to 80 per cent of Asians and Pan-Asians worldwide are also unable to find a suitable match. With only a one in four chance match (25%) amongst siblings, without this life-saving resource, patients would otherwise succumb to their disease. By making a cord blood donation, we would be contributing to a common resource of similar ethnicity, increasing the chances for patients with a treatable condition to find a matching cord blood unit, and receive a life-saving transplant. More individuals and families will have a future filled with hope. Expectant mothers interested to be a cord blood donor should speak with their ObGyn (Delivering Physician) from weeks of gestation. Alternatively, they may wish to contact the SCBB directly at or after 32 weeks of gestation to complete the donation process. The SCBB News Release 18 Feb 2009 Page 4 of 5

5 About the Singapore Cord Blood Bank The Singapore Cord Blood Bank (SCBB) is Singapore s only non-profit public cord blood bank. SCBB was officially opened in September 2005, and was set up in response to a demand for unrelated donor umbilical cord blood for transplantation therapy by Haematologists and Paediatricians in Singapore. It serves as a national resource to provide placental cord blood units of high safety and quality, through the practice of internationally accredited techniques of collection, processing, banking and disposition, in order to support cord blood transplantation and related research in Singapore and around the world. The SCBB raises its own funds for the cost of processing and storage of donated cord blood units. It is supported by Singapore s two public healthcare clusters SingHealth and the National Healthcare Group, two volunteer welfare organisations Children s Cancer Foundation and Club Rainbow Singapore as well as philanthropic organisations, the Shaw and Khoo Foundations. The hospitals participating in SCBB s cord blood donation programme are (according to alphabetical order) East Shore Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital, KK Women s & Children s Hospital, Mount Alvernia Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, National University Hospital, Raffles Hospital, Singapore General Hospital and Thomson Medical Centre. The SCBB News Release 18 Feb 2009 Page 5 of 5

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