The Ospedali Riuniti of Bergamo is the top center for the collection of umbilical cord blood in the Lombardy region, said the hospital, which received an award at the Policlinico di Milano (where the umbilical cord blood bank is located) for the second consecutive year for its commitment and professionalism with which it carries out its work, providing an important source of stem cells.
“Our collection program started in 2004,” explained Bruna Pasini, the head obstetrician, also in charge of the collection of umbilical cord blood for the hospital. “At that time we started to collaborate with the Milano Cord Blood Bank, which allowed us to collect over 1,000 units of blood.”
The remaining blood in the placenta after birth contains stem cells similar to those in the bone marrow. They are considered the new frontier to treat many diseases. “About 40-50% of patients with leukemia and lymphomas, who need bone marrow transplants,” explained Mariangelo Cossolini, the organ and tissue transplant coordinator for the province of Bergamo, “do not find compatible donors in their family or in the international registry of voluntary bone marrow donors. Therefore, umbilical cord blood is very precious because it can replace marrow in stem cell transplants and is able to regenerate bone marrow and the entire immune system.”