Little Lily Hasselman has already been through a great deal in her first five years. She was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at just six weeks of age and as a result has to endure daily painful physiotherapy, take medication with every meal, and undergo constant medical checks.
Cystic Fibrosis is a life-shortening genetic condition, with no known cure. Many children with the disease used to die in early childhood, but even with treatment advances their life expectancy rarely exceeds 30 years.
However hope is on the horizon. Professor Bob Williamson of Melbourne University is behind a new Australian medical study which aims to prove that umbilical cord blood can successfully treat cystic fibrosis.
The project will use sibling cord blood to regenerate the damaged lung cells of the affected child. “Most CF siblings cord blood has a 1 in 4 chance of being a perfect match that will not be rejected by the immune system of the child living with CF.”
This is where Lily’s little brother and sister come in. Two year old Henri and six month old Zara are both CF-free and had their umbilical cord blood banked at birth with CordBank.
Professor Williamson says Lily’s siblings’ cord blood won’t be used in the study, but will be kept for when a breakthrough comes. The study will prove the safety of the treatment with donated cells from unrelated people, and lab tests are showing positive signs.
Lily’s mum, Sarah-Jayne’s advice to any parent considering storing their baby’s cord blood is, ”Just do it. You never know what might be round the corner and although as parents you hope your children will never need to use their cord blood – it’s a great insurance