The Rotary WA Cord Blood Bank

In 2005 Rotary International celebrated its centenary. Rotarians in Western Australia resolved to recognise this important occasion by providing the community with a tangible project to serve the community in a free and ethical manner, in line with Rotary’s ethos.
After an exhaustive process it was agreed that a public Cord Blood Service would be established at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s (ARCBS) facility in Wellington St, Perth, to permit the collection, storage and provision of umbilical stem cells for the clinical treatment of malignant and other diseases of the immune and blood systems.
After a major fund-raising program the facility was built at ARCBS on time and on budget. It was equipped and prepared by Gail Lazzaro who worked tirelessly on the project. Subsequently, the facility was licensed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to collect umbilical cord blood (and process and store the resultant stem cells). King Edward Memorial Hospital had signed a MOU with ARCBS to act us the primary collection centre.
In the meantime, a significant change in clinical practice has led to a global decline in the use of cord blood as a source of stem cells. Consequently, the Federal Government determined that the inventory of stem cells held in E.S. banks is adequate for clinical use in the future and that it will no longer fund collection of any umbilical cord stem cells in Australia. Coincidentally, the Government has altered its indemnity protection of ARCBS, limiting it to purely blood and blood products.
As a consequence, ARCBS has advised the Rotary representatives on the Project Steering Committee that it consider the Rotary WA Cord Blood Bank is no longer viable. It has informed us that proposes to re-name the facility the Rotary WA Health Innovation Centre and to identify alternative innovative therapeutic projects to use the world class facility that Rotary has provided.
Since Rotary in WA has fulfilled the terms of the contract and is in the process of handing over the management of the facility to ARCBS, this decision is entirely one for ARCBS.
The title ‘Rotary’ will remain in the name of the re-purposed facility and we are assured that it will continue to provide life-enhancing and ethical therapies to our community, entirely in line with the intent of the original concept and with that of the donors to our fund-raising.
Like all things in life, clinical practices advance and evolve, and Rotary WA understands that to deliver the best outcomes for West Australians, we need to support changes and developments too. We remain confident that our centennial gift to the WA Community will continue to provide life-enhancing benefit for many years to come.
Contact:  PDG Peter McKerracher (Matilda Bay)