Comparisons Between Related and Unrelated Cord Blood Collection and/or Banking for Transplantation or Research: The UK NHS Blood and Transplant Experience

  • Suzanne M. WattEmail author
  • Katherine Coldwell
  • Jon Smythe


Following the pioneering work of Gluckman and colleagues, umbilical cord blood (UCB) has become an important source of hematopoietic stem cells for clinical transplantation, and banked UCB units are now readily available for this purpose. UCB banks now operate in many countries, with more than 10,000 allogeneic transplants having been performed worldwide. Many of the procedures for processing and storage of UCB in use in England today were established at the New York Cord Blood Bank in the 1990s and modified in the National Blood Service (now National Health Service Blood and Transplant or NHSBT). UCB banking within NHSBT was first instigated in 1995 as part of the South East Regional Blood Transfusion Service. The first cord blood units were then banked in February 1996 in dedicated facilities at Edgware in London and, for the following 7 years, altruistic donations were principally obtained through maternity units from two hospitals, Northwick Park and Barnet General NHS Trust hospitals. These hospitals were selected on the basis of their closeness to Edgware, and their high proportion of ethnic minority groups, which were inadequately represented in UK bone marrow donor registries. In 2001, with the nationalization of the blood transfusion services in England and North Wales and prior to the merger of the National Blood Service (NBS) for England and North Wales with UK Transplant to form NHSBT, cord blood collections and banking for clinical transplantation and research were integrated into the Stem Cells and Immunotherapies Department. This Department, now within NHSBT, comprises a network of eight Human Tissue Authority (HTA)-licensed GMP-grade facilities including the NHS Cord Blood Bank (previously the London Cord Blood Bank), specializing in the procurement, testing, processing, banking, and issuing of stem cell harvests or products from umbilical cord blood, mobilized peripheral blood, and bone marrow. The laboratories are also at the forefront for the development and delivery of advanced cellular therapies or related diagnostics using these cell sources. The NHSBT now sources unrelated UCB units from four hospitals in London, collects designated or directed family UCB units throughout England, and also obtains UCB units for research. This chapter will review current UCB collection and banking practices within NHSBT and will summarize the significant changes that have occurred since their inception and integration into the first public cord blood bank for transplantation and research in the UK.


Cord Blood Umbilical Cord Blood Total Nucleate Cell Cord Blood Bank Cord Blood Unit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank all those staff within the NHSBT specialist services who provided data for this review, and Ms Milly Lymer for her assistance with references.

Grant Funding: The authors wish to acknowledge the support of NHS Blood and Transplant, The Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, The Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre – Oxford, National Institutes of Research UK, Restore Burns & Wound Healing Trust, the Royal College of Surgeons, the Cord Blood Charity, the British Heart Foundation, the Leukaemia Research Fund, and E.U. Framework VI Thercord and VII Cascade Programme Grants.


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Copyright information

© Springer London 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suzanne M. Watt
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Katherine Coldwell
  • Jon Smythe
  1. 1.Stem Cell Laboratory, NHS Blood and TransplantJohn Radcliffe HospitalOxfordUK
  2. 2.Nuffield Department of Clinical Laboratory SciencesUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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