In 2005, in celebration of Rotary International's 100th birthday, Rotary Western Australia committed to fundraising $6 million to establish the Rotary WA Cord Blood Bank as a special gift to the people of Western Australia. Rotary WA is composed of the districts 9450, 9460 and 9470 with 120 clubs and about 3300 members.


The Rotary Western Australia Cord Blood Bank will be part of the national Australian cord blood registry, AusCord, and run by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. It will be the first public cord blood bank in the state of Western Australia.

The fund-raising appeal was formally launched at a special combined conference in Perth, capital of Western Australia, in 2005 of the three Rotary districts in this Australian state.

By the end of 2008, cash and pledges totalled $4.4 million, which is enough to start the building phase of the Rotary WA Cord Blood Bank facility, but not enough to finish it, as pointed out at a website about the project. "We need to raise a further $1.6 million."  Western Australian Rotary Clubs have directly contributed over $1 million themselves. Fundraising initiatives and support from local businesses have secured the greater part.

Locally, all donations over $2 are tax deductible.

The service will be available free of charge to patients needing cord blood transplants. These are patients suffering from leukaemia and other malignant and genetic blood diseases. The cord blood is the blood that remains in a baby's umbilical cord after it has been cut. Cord blood is rich in stem cell and can only be collected in the minutes after birth.

The cord blood bank's primary collection site will be King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth. Cord blood collected - with a prearranged permission of the donor - will then be transferred to new the Rotary Cord Blood Bank facility at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service headquarters in Wellington Street, where it will be processed, tested, frozen and stored until it is needed.

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 overseas. Rotary WA's vision is to change that.

The Chairman of the Rotary WA Cord Blood Bank Trust, PDG John Iriks, District 9460, has pointed out, that the new facility will be a "high-profile and lasting gift, something that will say to the people of WA for generations to come 'This is Rotary at work'... A cord blood transplant can mean the difference between life and death for current and future sufferers of disease throughout the community ... and ... perfectly mets the criteria of a project of significance to the whole of the state. "


Cord blood is a proven treatment alternative for a number of life threatening illnesses. Recent clinical and scientific advances have facilitated the expansion of the use of cord blood for adults as well as children in more than 7,000 transplants worldwide. New cell therapies to treat complications of transplantation, severe heart disease and joint degeneration are currently being developed.

The Rotarians of Western Australia have done it before: The Medical School at the University of Western Australia was a gift to Western Australia on the occasion of Rotary International's 50th Anniversary.

Western Australia is one of Australia's six states and two territories. Western Australia is occupying the western third  (2,645,615 kmĀ²  / 1,021,478 sq mi) of the Australian continent and has about 2.1 million inhabitants.


To see illustrations go to the journal PHOTOS.


PDG John Iriks, Chairman Rotary WA Cord Blood Bank Trust.


Footnote:  Two Australian cord blood banks (Sidney and Parkville) are accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) to ensure the quality, safety and security of the cord blood units. Another such organization is the AABB, an organization for the advancement of transfusion cellular thearapies. Both are headquartered in the US.