Posted on March 28, 2011

A delegation of senior personnel from the Hamad Medical Corporation Women’s Hospital visited Virgin Health Bank’s new state-of-the-art stem cell processing and cryo-preservation facility, at the Qatar Science & Technology Park recently.

The visit was aimed at furthering the understanding and knowledge-sharing opportunities between the two organisations.

Dr Halima al Tamimi, chairman of obstetrics and gynaecology and Nish Patel, executive director of the Women’s Hospital, led the delegation of Women’s Hospital team who had worked with Virgin Health Bank to develop the worldclass cord blood stem cell banking services for the bene- fit of families in Qatar.

Speaking on the occasion, Virgin Health Bank CEO Dr Rajan Jethwa said it was a pleasure to welcome Dr Halima and her colleagues from the Women’s Hospital to the newly completed stem cell processing and cryopreservation facility.

“The Women’s Hospital is one of our most important partners and by working closely with them we are able to offer families in Qatar transplant quality cord blood stem cell banking services. The visit is one of a number of educational initiatives that we will be running for the medical community in Qatar. These initiatives are designed to empower clinicians with knowledge about cord blood stem cells and their therapeutic potential,” he said.

Cord blood stem cells are collected using a safe and painless technique, from the blood that remains in the umbilical cord after a baby is born. The cells are then cryopreserved for an initial period of 20 years meaning that they are available should the family need them for transplant.

Cord blood stem cells presently used in the treatment conditions such as sickle cell anaemia, beta thalassemia and cancers of the blood such as leukaemias. Around the world hundreds of clinical trials are taking place using stem cells to treat conditions such as stroke, cerebral palsy, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and muscular dystrophy.

The new stem cell processing and cryopreservation facility is one of a number of Virgin Health Bank “firsts” that include the Supreme Council of Health’s award of the first licence to operate a cord blood bank in Qatar and the launch of the first Arabic/English stem cell educational website qa.

source: Qatar Tribune