Hamad Medical Corporation and Virgin Health Bank Sign Historic Memorandum of Understanding on Cord Blood Banking

Published December 22nd, 2009 - 03:27 GMT

Today marks a significant occasion with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Virgin Health Bank QSTP LLC (VHB) that will see VHB offer private cord blood banking services to HMC’s patients from the end of January 2010.

Under the agreement, VHB will work with the Hamad Women’s Hospital to provide patients with access to their high quality cord blood stem cell banking services. This Shariah compliant (in accordance with Islamic law) service gives families the choice of storing the cord blood stem cells from their newborn babies should they wish to become customers of VHB.

The cord blood stem cells can be used to treat disorders like beta thalassemia, sickle cell anaemia and cerebral palsy and, assuming that they are a match, would also be available should they be required by a family member as part of a treatment plan for a range of illnesses such as leukaemia.

“Medical science is advancing all the time and stem cells will be the basis for new treatments in the future in addition to those that have already been developed,” said Dr. Hanan Al Kuwari, Managing Director of Hamad Medical Corporation. “We are delighted to be working with Virgin Health Bank to provide our patients with the choice of storing their baby’s stem cells.”

“HMC and VHB share similar values and are both focused on providing patients with high quality care and services. Teams from VHB and HMC are working closely together on an implementation plan that will see the new service launched at the end of January 2010 and we look forward to a very positive working relationship that will benefit our patients in the years to come,” Dr. Al Kuwari added.

Cord blood derived stem cells offer many advantages over those that are harvested from bone marrow - a key benefit is that these stem cells are harvested in a non-intrusive and pain-free method from the placenta that is generally discarded following the birth of the child.

Dr. Rajan Jethwa Chief Executive of Virgin Health Bank said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the patients at Hamad Women’s Hospital and for VHB, and we are delighted to be able to announce this initiative today. We’re developing strong working relationships with the clinical and management teams at The Women’s Hospital and in January will be running a comprehensive training programme for the HMC staff involved in the delivery of this service. Our experience shows that working together and arranging the appropriate transfer of knowledge and skills is key to the delivery of high quality cord blood banking services. We will also be working with HMC to ensure parents are provided with information about this innovative service.”

“Increasing numbers of families around the world are choosing to bank the cord blood stem cells of their babies and we’re delighted to be working with HMC to provide this service for families here in Qatar,” Dr. Jethwa added. “Our vision is to exploit Virgin Health Bank's knowledge of cord blood stem cell processing and storage, benefit from the global reach of the Virgin brand, and to make Qatar one of the world's leading centres for cord blood banking.”

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