Matthew Farrow, the world’s first ever umbilical cord blood recipient, has personally delivered a life-saving cord blood sample to a 2-year-old leukaemia patient from Orlando, Florida.
Matthew’s receives the world’s first cord blood transplant
Matthew was five years old when his parents made the brave decision to allow an international team of medics to use a cord blood stem cell transplant to treat their son’s Fanconi Anaemia, a life limiting inherited bone marrow failure syndrome (IBMFS).
Children with Fanconi Anaemia suffer from a range of symptoms including bleeding and increased susceptibility to infections. Their skin, weight, growth, hearing and heart may all be affected and the average survival age is just 14-25 years.
By 1988 haematologists knew that cord blood was a rich source of stem cells and were waiting for an opportunity to use what they predicted would be a game-changing procedure in the treatment of blood disorders. That same year, Matthew’s baby sister was born. After she had been safely delivered her cord blood was collected and flown with Matthew and his medical team to Paris where he was treated by pioneering haematologist, Eliane Gluckman.
Matthew made a full recovery and has spent the last 29 years raising awareness about umbilical cord blood.
Now a father himself, Matthew works for a Cord:Use, a hybrid public/private cord blood bank in Orlando. “It is an honour to be able to work with a company that is directed by the pioneers in this field,” Matthew says, “These doctors played a huge part in my life. I work as a patient advocate and assist with the days to day operations for the cord blood bank.”
It was at Cord:Use that Matthew’s path crossed with 2-year-old Grant Gibbens. Grant was diagnosed with leukaemia before he had reached his first birthday. Chemotherapy had not worked and he needed a haematopoietic stem cell transplant. The Gibben’s family were hoping to find a bone marrow donor, but like Matthew, Grant was fortunate to have a special sibling arrive in his time of need. When baby Wyatt was born, his cord blood was collected and it was a match for Grant.
“We were lucky, because we were able to use umbilical cord blood, so it was actually not invasive for Wyatt.” (John Gibben’s, the boys’ father)
When Matthew read Grant’s story he realised that he was the one who had delivered the cord blood used for his treatment. “That’s really special”, Matthew said, “to hear that cord blood has been able to save another life.”
Grant is now in full remission and spending time at home with his family. “He has no idea.” Says his mother, Jessica, “He thinks he’s the greatest little brother in the entire world but he’s got no clue just exactly what he has done for him and our family.”
Cord blood has now been used for over 40,000 transplants to save people with over 80 diseases, yet as Dr Edward Guiundi points out, “it’s still unfortunately a well kept secret.”
Unlock the potential of cord blood with CellPlan
Cord blood stem cell transplants can be very expensive, especially when you consider travel and accommodation costs. A single cord stem cell transplant can cost up to £300,000. With CellPlan, stem cell treatment is accessible to all. If you, your baby, or a sibling is diagnosed with a blood or immune system disorder, such as leukaemia, or Fanconi Anaemia CellPlan gives you access to the medical support of doctors from around the world and pays for your stem cell transplant.
Applying for CellPlan insurance is easy. You can request a quote, brochure, or call back here.
How to store your baby’s umbilical cord blood and tissue
There are now cord blood banks all over the world, and it can be difficult to decide which is best for your family. CellPlan partners exclusively with the most accredited cord blood banks in the world. Only these blood banks meet our stringent criteria and qualify for our Excel Global Membership Programme. Find a cord blood bank near you here.