Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Umbilical cord blood banks in the UK

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 14 July 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:60

Rapid Response:

Do not discard 99.99%of the human placental umbilical cord blood for the sake of stem cells only

To The Editor,BMJ,
Dear Sir,
Thank you very much for publishing a very interesting editorial by Drs.SJ
Proctor,AM Dickinson,T Parekh and C Chapman in BMJ,2001;323:60-1(14
July).While the emphasis in this article is on stem cells, which
constitute only 0.01% of the nucleated cells in the umbilical cord blood,
the use of other cells which constitute 99.9% of the umbilical cord whole
blood has not been mentioned.Our group of clinicians and researchers have
been working in Calcutta on freshly collected placental cord whole blood
transfusion,which is a rich source of fetal haemoglobin,growth factor and
cytokine rich plasma as well as other nucleated cells,of which stem cells
are an important constituent.We have been working on this project,which is
funded by the Dept.of Science and Technology,Govt.of West Bengal,India,
since 1st April 1999.Till date we have transfused 296 units of umbilical
cord whole blood after following the standard blood transfusion protocol,
and have not come across any adverse immunological or non-immunological
reactions.The first 174 units of placental umbilical cord whole blood
transfusion in 62 patients as a rich source of fetal haemoglobin supply
was published in "Clinical and Experimental Obstetrics and

We wish to point out some of our findings to you, which may give a
better perspective on the uses of placental umbilical cord whole blood.(a)
We have safely utilized placental umbilical cord whole blood in 108 human
volunteers,so far, with different indications of standard blood
transfusion;(b)we wish to reiterate the fact that fetal haemoglobin can
carry more oxygen, which is an added advantage in critically ill patients
admitted in ITU/ICCU/RCU.(c)We have also observed that on an average 100ml
of placental blood can be collected from one term sized placenta and it
has an oxygen carrying capacity of 30 to 50% more than standard adult
blood.(d)Further,our observation is that in case of renal failure or
severe anaemia,where adult blood transfusion in adequate amounts can risk
the precipitation of heart failure,fetal haemoglobin rich cord blood
transfusion may help clinicians to control the situation in a better way.
Moreover, the number of geriatric patients is increasing all over the
world.They may get(e)a fresh lease of life in case of varying degree of
bone marrow's(?)senescence or functional failure through the transfusion
of hypo-antigenic stem cell rich umbilical cord whole blood.(f)Terminal
cancer patients too can have an extesion of life through this type of
transfusion,utilizing nature's best available biological sieve,i.e., the
placenta. And lastly,(g)we may get more information about fetal tissue-
adult tisue interaction and gene switching mechanism as a result of this
method of transfusion.
Sincerely yours,

Competing interests: No competing interests

06 October 2001
Niranjan Bhattacharya
Surgeon and Superintendent
Bijoygarh State Hospital, Calcutta,India