Grandad gets childhood jabs aged 62 after stem cell transplant

A grandad is having his childhood vaccinations aged 62 after his immune system was reset by stem cells from a baby’s umbilical cord.

Colin Baker’s sons call him Benjamin Button following the transplant to cure a blood disorder.

The father-of-three was suffering from myeloid dysplasia, which causes heavy bruising and bleeding, and tests showed he was at high risk of developing blood cancer.

After his immune system was effectively wiped out by chemotherapy and radiation, he received the stem cells to kick start it again.

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Colin said: “There’s a lady out there and I have her child’s cells in me. I think about it every day.

“I will finish my childhood vaccinations in two years’ time. It’s bizarre.

“I’ve got grandchildren now and I like to say that I’m only a little bit older than them!”

Colin’s one-year-old grandson Arlo and granddaughter Beatrix, born in January, are also having their jabs.

Blood in the umbilical cord and placenta is rich with stem cells, which can turn into different types of blood cells – red, white and platelets.

During a transplant, a patient’s damaged cells are replaced with healthy ones from a donor.

Since 2007, charity Anthony Nolan’s Cord Blood Programme has collected donations of umbilical cord blood that would usually be thrown away.

Colin, of Wakefield, is sharing his story to raise awareness of cord blood donation during British Science Week, running from March 10-19.

He recently visited the charity’s Nottingham lab and found the science of transplants “absolutely mind-blowing”.

He said: “The beauty of having stem cells from a baby’s umbilical cord is they have had nothing else to contend with.

“You get a better match and better outcomes from an umbilical cord donation than an adult donor donation.”

The first transplant using stem cells from cord blood took place in 2012 and around 300 patients have benefited since.

Last year, the programme passed the milestone of 67,000 donations.

Colin encouraged mums who are offered the chance to donate to do so. He said: “If the option is available to you, please do it.”

You can find out more about Anthony Nolan’s Cord Blood Programme here.

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