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Monday, 25 October 2004

First Child in Australia to Receive Successful Double Cord Blood Transplant

Brad Hubbard is the first child in Australia to receive a novel form of transplant - not one but two separate cord blood units - at Sydney Children's Hospital Randwick.

Brad is nine years old and comes from the NSW Riverina town of Griffith. Eighteen months ago he was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukaemia. The medical indications were that he had a poor chance of a cure with standard chemotherapy treatment: His best chance lay in a bone marrow transplant.

'No suitable donor was found within the immediate family,' says Professor Marcus Vowels, Head of the Australian Cord Blood Bank at Sydney Children's Hospital Randwick. 'The hospital then tried to find an unrelated bone marrow donor from the 8 million donors registered worldwide. Unfortunately there was none.'

Cord blood has been used in Australia to treat patients with life threatening diseases - as an alternative to bone marrow for transplantation - since 1991.

Umbilical cord blood, the blood collected from the placenta after a baby has been born, is rich in bone marrow forming cells, which are the building blocks of our blood cells. Researchers at the Minneapolis Transplant Centre in the US have identified that the use of two cord blood donations for transplant hastens engraftment (acceptance by the body) and improves the survival chances of patients. Brad's doctors and parents decided to proceed with a double cord blood transplant for him.

He received two cord blood transplants on the 2nd July, 2004. One cord blood was obtained from the AusCord Australian network of cord blood banks and the second unit came from a European cord blood bank.

The two units were from newborn babies of different sex and different blood groups. These differences did not create any problems with the transplant. Brad has engrafted (accepted) both cord blood units in a faster time than would normally be expected. Interestingly, one of the two cord blood units has now taken over - the female unit!

The other cord blood unit seems to have facilitated the survival of the female cord blood unit to do its job more quickly.

'It is deeply gratifying and exciting to see Brad, the first child in Australia to undergo this procedure in Australia, to be planning to return home to Griffith, feeling well and with a healthy bone marrow just four months after his transplants,' says Professor Vowels.

Through this long 18 months Brad has been supported by his family, friends and teachers from his school at Griffith East Public. He and his family have now made many more friends among the staff and other families they have met at Sydney Children's Hospital Randwick.

For Further Information Contact:

Jan Forrester, Public Affairs Manager Tel: 9382 3571 - Mob: 0411 730 842

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