Umbilical cord stem cell donation 'saves' leukaemia man

David Pyne Mr Pyne said he "had never heard of getting stem cells from umbilical cords"

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A man who was given 18 months to live after being diagnosed with leukaemia has said his life has been saved by stem cells taken from umbilical cords.

David Pyne, from Baguley, Manchester, was given a transplant of cells donated following births in France and the US.

The 60-year-old, who is in remission, was forced to consider alternative treatments after chemotherapy failed.

He said being told there was a chance that newborns could save his life was "incredible news".

The treatment for patients with cancers such as leukaemia uses donated blood stem cells, usually from adult donors, to replace damaged ones.

'Regenerate bone marrow'

Blood stem cell transplants

Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a bone marrow stem cell (beige).

Blood stem cell transplantation is used to restore cells destroyed by some types of cancer and other blood diseases, such as sickle cell anaemia.

After being treated with radiation or high-dose drugs, the patient receives the harvested stem cells, which travel to the bone marrow and begin to produce new blood cells

No suitable matches were found for Mr Pyne through a search of his family and a database of other donors.

The grandfather, who underwent the transplant at Manchester's Christie Hospital, said he "had never heard of getting stem cells from umbilical cords".

"To hear that there was a chance that newborns could save my life was incredible news".

In the UK, pregnant mothers are given the option to donate and the use of stem cells to treat cancer is available on the NHS. The Christie has carried out six transplants over the past year.

The hospital's Dr Mike Dennis said the treatment was a "variant of a blood transfusion".

"The cord blood has been frozen anywhere in the world and it can be flown to where the patient is being treated," he said.

"It can then be given to them after the chemotherapy and radiotherapy as a life-saving procedure to regenerate their entire bone marrow."

Since the transplant, Mr Pyne has been treated as an outpatient at the hospital, attending weekly check-ups.

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