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FAQs

We've gathered together as much information as possible for you. If there's anything else you'd like to know though, our Clinical Advisors will be happy to help answer your questions. Just call us on +974 4404 9024.

Q&As about Virgin Health Bank
This section contains some of the questions we're often asked about the company.
 If you have another one, call our Clinical Advisors +974 4404 9024.

Q&As about banking cord blood stem cells
Here are some of the questions we're often asked about banking cord blood stem cells.
If you have another one, call our Clinical Advisors on +974 4404 9024.

Q&As about Virgin Health Bank

What does Virgin Health Bank do?

Our specially trained Clinical Advisors provide parents with honest and accurate information about cord blood stem cell banking enabling them to make truly informed choices. We do not sell to them or try to persuade them to use our services.

We provide a Supreme Council of Health licensed state-of-the-art processing and storage service for parents who would like to store the stem cells from their newborn baby’s umbilical cord blood.

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How does the Virgin Health Bank service work?

Once you have chosen our Family Banking service you will be informed when your baby's stem cells have been safely collected, tested and stored. It is your family’s and nothing will be done to it or with it without your express written permission.

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What are Virgin Health Bank’s credentials for this?

At Virgin Health Bank we believe that every parent should be able to choose to bank their baby’s cord blood stem cells and that they should have access to honest and accurate information on which to base their decision. We work with transplant surgeons to ensure that the stem cell units that are produced meet the requirements for units that will be used for transplants. We have a laboratory that has earned a license from the Supreme Council of Health in Qatar. We comply with all relevant international regulatory standards, and get on-going advice from independent scientific, medical, ethical, and medico-legal experts.

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Is Virgin Health Bank involved in research using stem cells?

Virgin Health Bank is not involved in research using stem cells. Virgin Health Bank only engaged in research related to improve stem cell processing and storage operations.

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Is Sir Richard Branson involved in this business?

Sir Richard Branson is passionate about the opportunities for stem cell transplantation and regenerative medicine, so much so that he has made a personal commitment that all proceeds from Virgin Health Bank to the Virgin Group will be donated to initiatives that are helping to fully realise the potential of cord blood stem cells.

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How do I find out more or apply to have my baby’s stem cells stored?

Just call us on +974 4404 9024 or click on apply now and you can leave your contact details for one of our Clinical Advisors to call you back.

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How long before my due date do I need to join?

Ideally, you should have at least one month left before your due date as its best not to rush your decision, there’s some important paperwork to be completed as part of the application process.

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Who are the Virgin Health Bank Clinical Advisors?

The Virgin Health Bank Clinical Advisors are a specially trained team wholly dedicated to working with parents to be. They are there to provide accurate information about cord blood banking and Virgin Health Bank’s services and support parents with their applications.

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What would happen to my baby’s stored stem cells if Virgin Health Bank went out of business?

In the unlikely event of Virgin Health Bank ceasing to operate as a business there is financial provision, an escrow account, made for the continued safe storage of the stem cell units for the full period of the individual’s contracts with Virgin Health Bank.

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Q&As about banking cord blood stem cells

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are considered to be the body’s “Master Cells”. They are known by this description, because they have the following unique properties:

  • Self-renewal: stem cells can renew themselves almost indefinitely. This is also known as proliferation.
  • Differentiation: stem cells have the special ability to develop into cells with specialised characteristics and functions.
  • Unspecialised: stem cells themselves are largely unspecialised cells which then give rise to specialised cells.

Stem cells for transplantation can come from yourself (this is called an autologous transplant) or from a donor (this is called an allogeneic transplant).

Scientists already know how transplanted cells can be used to treat some illnesses - they're used today, mainly in allogeneic transplants, to treat cancers of the blood such as leukaemias, and blood disorders such as sickle cell anaemia and beta thalassemia.

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What’s the difference between cord blood cells and embryonic stem cells?

Cord blood stem cells are classed as “adult stem cells” and scientists believe they are the closest to embryonic stems cells in terms of their ability to form new cell types and tissues. This is why there is such scientific and medical interest in the potential of cord blood stem cells to treat disease. Embryonic stem cells by contrast are found in very early embryos up to a few weeks after conception. These cells have the potential to form any of the tissue types that make up the human body. Virgin Health Bank has no involvement whatsoever with embryonic stem cells.

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What is regenerative medicine?

Scientists have shown that umbilical cord blood is not only a rich source of blood and immune system (hematopoietic) stem cells, but is also a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells which give rise to connective and support tissues. In regenerative medicine, these mesenchymal stem cells could be used to replace or repair cells that have been damaged by injury or disease. It’s thought that many potential future treatments may rely on using your own stem cells.

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I’ve heard that storing my baby’s cells may help if he or she develops a blood disorder like childhood leukemia. Is that true?

It is likely that your baby’s own cord blood stem cells may not be suitable to treat blood disorders such as childhood leukaemia. In fact, the nature of childhood leukaemia means that stem cells from a matched donor (an allogeneic transplant) are more likely to be of used than your child’s own stem cells (an autologous transplant). This is due to the fact that in this case, your child’s own stem cells would be considered to be pre-leukaemic and as such, would further contribute to your child’s leukaemic condition.

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What diseases can cord blood stem cells be used to treat now?

Stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood are used today to treat a number of blood diseases, including hematologic (blood) disorders, oncologic disorders, immune deficiencies, and metabolic disorders – all-in-all eighty plus diseases. More interesting though is the potential – early results indicate that cord blood stem cells could have future possibilities in the treatment of a wide range of diseases. Current research includes stem cell treatment for heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, strokes, osteoporosis, skin burns, osteoarthritis and tendon, muscle and ligament injuries.

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What is the difference between allogeneic and autologous transplants?

These are both terms used to describe transplants. An allogeneic transplant involves taking donated stem cells from one person and transplanting them to another person. An autologous transplant means that your own cells have been taken and transplanted back into you. At the moment the majority of stem cell transplants are allogeneic, as very few people have stem cells stored for their own use.

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How likely is my child to need its own stem cells?

During a lifetime of 70 years the likelihood of a person requiring a transplant of their own stem cells (an autologous transplant) has been calculated at 1 in 435 *

*Reference: JJ Nietfield, MC Pasquini, BR Logan, F. Verter, MM Horowitz
Published in: BBMT 2008;14:316-322; Parents Guide to Cord Blood Banking

During a lifetime of 70 years the likelihood of a person requiring a transplant of their own or another’s stem cells (an autologous or allogeneic transplant) has been calculated at 1 in 217 *

*Reference: JJ Nietfield, MC Pasquini, BR Logan, F. Verter, MM Horowitz
Published in: BBMT 2008;14:316-322; Parents Guide to Cord Blood Banking

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Why does a cord blood stem cell unit have to be matched?

Just as everyone has a blood type, so everyone has a tissue type – and stem cells are a type of tissue. The human body is designed to reject anything it sees as foreign, and so it will fight off a tissue type it does not recognise. The closer matched tissue types are less likely to be rejected or cause serious complications.

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Who will collect my baby’s cord blood?

One of the nurses or doctors that have been trained by Virgin Health Bank in best practice collection techniques will collect your baby’s cord blood in the hospital where you decided to give birth.

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Is it true that collecting cord blood distracts the medical team from helping with the birth?

Normally, collecting umbilical cord blood is a straightforward process and shouldn’t interfere with the care of the mother and her baby as their wellbeing must always the main priority. If there was any possibility that the collection could interfere with the care of either, the collection should not take place.

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Are cord blood collections always successful?

Every birth is unique so there can be no guarantees – the wellbeing of both mother and baby must always take top priority. The collection is a painless, straightforward technique which rarely results in anything less than a successfully processed and stored product. If there is a problem we will get in touch with you straightaway and do everything possible to make sure you enjoy the best possible outcome.

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