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Public Cord Blood Bank of Life Starts in Ukraine
On 21 September 2017, the first public (donor) bank of cord blood, founded by the Bank of Life Charitable Foundation, started its work in Ukraine. Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation is an advisor to Bank of Life. This innovative project will help solve the challenges of treatment for people in Ukraine with onco-haematological disease (blood cancer).
During the press conference, the Ministry of Health was represented by Alexander Linchevsky and Tymofiy Badikov. "If we talk about statistics, oncology and haematological diseases are detected annually in 7,000 Ukrainians, about 1,000 of them are children" said Badikov. About 48% of these patients need stem cell transplantation. More than half of them need stem cells from an unrelated donor. However, in Ukraine, there is no access to a donor registry. In total there are four transplantation centers in the state, however, during all the time of independence, no transplants from an unrelated donor have been performed. This is due precisely to the lack of donors.
Badicov explained that the only chance to save life for 1,500 Ukrainians that need transplants annually is to seek help abroad. "How I counted: over 7 years Ukraine spent more than UAH 1 billion on treatment abroad, of which 60% was funding for bone marrow transplantation."
Alexander Linchevsky outlined the systemic changes: "Transplantation is not a pill… It is the summit of social interaction, when we, as a society, understand importance, and as one big team work to save our fellow citizens. It is a civilization leap forward. Transplantation will characterize us as an already mature society, which understands that salvation is expensive. What needs to be done not only at a certain institute or hospital, but we must work for everyone. We must understand that we must be a donor. That is, all these components should work."
Yaroslav Issakov spoke of his experience with cord blood banking, as founder of the family bank Hemafund in Ukraine and as president of the charitable foundation Bank Life. "Today, if a patient is diagnosed with oncohematological disease and he needs stem cell transplantation, he uses two ways: to search for a donor of bone marrow or a sample of cord blood already stored in a tank. The problem of finding a donor is that we all are different."
During the speech, Jakub Baran expressed support for the project. He is chief executive of the European umbilical cord blood bank network FamiCord Group and co-founder of a public cord blood bank in Poland created in early 2011. "To date, we have already collected more than 3600 donor samples. In order for Ukraine to meet all the needs of the population in the stem cells for transplantation, it needs to collect about 24,000 samples. We also plan technical support for a new public bank. To begin, we want to donate 100 samples of umbilical cord blood hematopoietic stem cells." This donation will help Bank of Life pass the inventory threshold of 500 cord blood units needed to apply for international accreditation.
"That is, from the present day, Bank of Life owns these 100 samples, and after the transfer and registration process is completed, information on the phenotypes of these samples will appear on the site. That is, these 100 samples are already available for the needs of patients in Ukraine. They are in line with international standards and can be used by onco-haemologists around the world" said Yaroslav Issakov.