Al-Ahli Hospital and Virgin Health Bank QSTP have signed an agreement creating a partnership that will assist in the development of cord blood stem cell banking in Qatar. Their collaboration will give guests of the hospital the opportunity to store the umbilical cord blood stem cells of their newborn babies.
The programme that has been developed ensures that guests who are going to have their babies at Al-Ahli Hospital are informed about cord blood banking and can benefit from VHB QSTP’s services through their maternity care. This partnership was announced in a press conference hosted by representatives from both Al-Ahli Hospital and VHB QSTP.
VHB QSTP was established to help realise the benefits of stem cell therapies for the people of Qatar and the wider Gulf region and they began offering their cord blood banking services to Qatar’s families in late 2009. They have already completed a week long training programme for the obstetrics and midwifery teams at Al-Ahli in support of this initiative.
Mr. Abdulwahed Al-Mawlawi, the Managing Director and CEO of Medicare Group and Al-Ahli Hospital said “Al-Ahli Hospital has undertaken this partnership to assist in its development in Qatar by making it available to our honourable Guests. Teams from Al-Ahli and Virgin Health Bank have worked closely together for a number of months to assure that this service is delivered in a proficient manner.”
Dr. Rajan Jethwa, the CEO of VHB QSTP said, “Virgin Health Bank’s new partnership with Al-Ahli Hospital is a significant and exciting development for cord blood banking in Qatar and the Gulf region. Together we’ll educate families about this area of medicine and provide a high quality ethical service.”
Al-Ahli Hospital's maternity unit is the largest among the private healthcare providers in Qatar. Having been in operation for over than three years, their maternal morbidity and mortality rates are much lower than the internationally-accepted figures. Their western-qualified and highly experienced team of consultants and specialists led by Clinical Director, Dr. Zeenat Rizvi, perform an average of six deliveries per day.
Dr. Rizvi said, "Cord blood stem cell banking provides families with the opportunity to store the stem cells of their newborn babies. These cells may be used to treat the child, or provided there is a tissue match, another member of their family.”
“Developments in this area of medicine are progressing rapidly; today cord blood stem cells are used to treat blood cancers including leukaemia’s and blood disorders such as thalassemia and sickle cell anaemia. In the future they are expected to become the basis for advances in the field of regenerative medicine. Through this partnership, we can provide our guests with ethically-compliant cord blood banking and this falls in line with our objective of providing leading edge obstetric care.”
Stem cells are obtained from cord blood collected just after a baby is born and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut. It is a straightforward and safe procedure that has no impact on the mother or her newly born child. After collection, the cord blood is transferred to Virgin Health Bank’s Human Tissue Authority licensed processing centre in the UK, where it undergoes tests to determine its viability and the number of cells are counted before it is cryogenically preserved at -190C.
Dr Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the eminent Islamic scholar, has approved of the cord blood banking process and has declared that it conforms to Shari’a law. Dr Al-Qaradawi is Chairman of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, a member of the Islamic Fiqh Council and the senior Islamic Jurist.
In 2009 Qatar Foundation and VHB QSTP signed a partnership that has seen VHB QSTP relocate its international headquarters to QSTP where it’s building an advanced processing and cryogenic storage facility that will be operational before the end of 2010.
The new cord blood banking service has commenced at Al-Ahli Hospital and guests are now able to get more information about it by contacting its Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department. The service costs families a one off payment of QR 12,950, paid to Virgin Health Bank, which includes the collection kit, the processing of the cord blood, all the necessary tests and 20 years of storage.
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