A Rotary cord blood bank in Western Australia

 
Rotary clubs and districts in Western Australia have succeeded in reaching the goal of collection around six million Dollars to fund the construction of a public cord blood bank in Perth, capital and largest city of the state. The cord blood bank is a gift to the people of Western Australia.  
 

When Rotary International President Ray Klinginsmith visited the building site in December of 2010, the construction of the cord blood bank was half complete.

  

The facility will provide processing, testing and storage facilities for donations of cord blood for patients suffering from leukaemia and other malignant and genetic blood diseases.

 

The cord blood bank is being build as an extension on the third floor of the Red Cross Blood Service building in the heart of Perth and will be ready later this year for the medical set-up and approval process. 

 

A cord blood transplant can mean the difference between life and death for current and future sufferers of such diseases.

 

It will be the first public cord blood bank in the state of Western Australia, and the service will be available free of charge to patients.

 

"This is Rotary at work," the chairman of the Rotary WA Cord Blood Bank Trust, PDG John Iriks, says.

 

The WA Cord Blood Bank will be part of the national Australian cord blood registry, AusCord, and run by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

 

"The WA cord blood program will be able to help fill the gaps in the national cord blood registry by focusing on the unique ethnic mixes in this community," senior scientist Gail Lazzaro of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service in Perth says.

 

At any time about 1100 patients are on search lists across Australia for suitably matched cord blood or bone marrow donations.

 

"There have been many publicised cases of WA patients searching and unable to find a match and we hope to make a difference in this area. We will be helping WA patients and also potentially patients in other parts of the world," senior scientist Gail Lazzaro says.

 

Cord blood is the blood that remains in a baby's umbilical cord after it has been cut. It is rich in stem cell and can only be collected in the minutes after birth.

 

Western Australia is Australia's largest state, occupying the entire western third (2,645,615 km2 / 1,021,478 sq mi) of the Australian continent, but the state has only 2.3 million inhabitants. 85% of the people live in the south-west corner of the state.

 

The state is divided into three Rotary districts with 120 clubs and about 3300 members. 

 

In celebration Rotary International's 100th birthday in 2005, the multi-district project was launched at a special conference by the three centennial District Governors Axel Handevitt-Haar (District 9450), John Iriks (District 9460) and Hugh Langridge (District 9470).

 

Two years before their term began, the governor nominees invited Rotary and Rotaract clubs, Inner Wheel and  Probus Australia  (an association of active retirees) to suggest projects.

 

A selection panel of non-Rotarians reviewed more than 50 proposals and three rounds of submissions against pre-set criteria before choosing the cord blood bank proposal from the state's Inner Wheel clubs.

 

The fundraising-part of the cord blood bank project has been in the hands of Rotary WA Cord Blood Bank Trust, chaired by PDG John Iriks.

 

A vigorous fundraising campaign has secured donations from individuals and corporate organisations. All donations over two Dollars are tax deductible in Australia.

 

The early development planning was overseen by a joint Rotary-Blood Service project committee including PDG Peter McKerracher, PP Bob Dunn and Inner Wheel's Rhonda Johns. PDG Peter McKerracher continues to play a major role in the trust.

 

There are commercial facilities in Western Australia that store cord blood for private future us. Public accessible cord blood has to come from public cord blood banks in the eastern states of Australia or from overseas.

 

Rotary WA's vision is to change that.

 

The Rotarians of Western Australia have done it before:  In 1955, for Rotary's 50th anniversary, the 12 WA clubs at the time raised the funds to build the state's first medical school at the University of Western Australia.

 

Footnotes:

 

Contact: PDG John Iriks can be reached at 0417 904 419 or by e-mail: john_iriks@iinet.net.au

 

Sources: Rotary International; Rotary WA Cordblood Bank (1) ; Rotary WA Cord Blood Bank (2); Australian Red Cross Blood Service; www.ourblooddrive.org; Wikipedia; Cord blood bankscord blood