Cord blood saves first Singapore life

Cord blood saves first Singapore life

Singapore (dpa) – Toddler Hoh Sin Jin has become the first to receive a transplant of umbilical cord blood in Singapore, The Straits Times reported Tuesday.

The relatively new procedure was used to treat a potentially fatal condition known as bubble-boy disease. The baby’s condition had been critical and he was “already suffering from viral, bone and fungal infection,” said Associate Professor Tan Ah Moy, Head of Paediatric Haematology\Oncology at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Blood taken from the umbilical cord is a rich source of immature cells that can develop into a wide range of different blood cells which can be used to replace diseased ones.

It took four months to find a positive blood type match for the baby. The two-year-old Sin Jin is now back home.

Launched in September 2005, the Singapore Cord Blood Bank (SCBB) is the first of its kind in the country and serves as a national resource to Singaporeans in need of a cord blood transplant.

It has banked 2,000 units in its registry, and aims for another 2,000 by next year.

The process not only involved its cost – a whopping S$300,000 (US$198,000) – but what was available in the blood bank.

Tan Ah Moy said, “The transplant alone costs between $80,000 Singapore (US$52,600) but there is a government subsidy of about 50 per cent.”

The Straits Times reported that families can turn to charitable organizations for financial help. These include KKH Health Endowment Fund, Ronald McDonald Fund and Children’s Cancer Society.

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