Stem Cell Harvesting Center Promises to Put Yerevan on the Map

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Yerevan will soon become the only regional center for stem cell harvesting and blood component separation announced the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry on Thursday.

Its Chairwoman, Doctor Frieda Jordan said the Registry has received approval to establish a Stem Cell Harvesting Center at the Oncology and Hematology Institute (OHI) of the Health Ministry of Armenia.

According to Jordan it will bring state-of-the-art medical and research technology to Armenia, transforming Yerevan into a regional center for the treatment of debilitating diseases like Leukemia.

The Registry currently depends on institutions outside of Armenia for the stem cell harvesting required to conduct life-saving transplants. But over 80% of the Registry’s donors are from Armenia, and none of the country’s medical centers offer stem cell harvesting.

The center promises to significantly decrease the costs of harvesting and transplanting stem cells, bringing the modern day treatment within reach of many Armenian patients who are often denied the life saving procedure because of prohibitive costs.

"The Center, when established, will bring the life-saving procedure of stem cell transplantation within the reach of many more patients with leukemia and other life-threatening blood diseases," she explained. "It will play a vital role in the treatment of other diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease."

This will not only bring in revenue from other countries in the region, it will also position the center as a vital and active player among international transplantation centers worldwide, she stressed.

"Like the Bone Marrow Registry itself, the harvesting center will be internationally accredited and will open new doors for global collaboration in medicine and scientific research, Jordan explained.

The Registry has already raised $200,000 toward the total $850,000 goal from the Lincy Foundation and private individuals, including an anonymous donor, ABMDR Board member Carolann Najarian, the Glendale Sunrise Rotary Club, and supporters who attended the 5th Anniversary fundraising concert. These initial funds allowed the ABMDR to purchase a cell separator instrument, and begin remodeling of the facility. According to Jordan, the Registry will hold another telethon before September 1 to raise additional funds to cover the remainder of the center’s construction costs.

The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry is the first and only organization of its kind in the Caucasus region and was founded in 1999 as an independent, non-governmental, non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that every ethnic Armenian struck with a life-threatening blood-related illness is able to find hope for long-term survival through the identification of a genetically suitable bone marrow match.

It currently has over 14,000 registered donors from 8 countries.

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