A Sydney toddler whose umbilical cord blood was stored to help treat her sister’s Type 1 diabetes has had it reinfused after showing signs of the disease herself.
Lucy Hinchion, aged 20 months, on Friday became the youngest child in the world to receive her own cord blood to help prevent or delay the chronic condition’s onset, as part of a five-year study at The Children’s Hospital in Westmead.
The cells found in umbilical cord blood – unique immune cells called regulatory T-cells and stem cells – are considered promising in improving the treatment of many diseases including Type 1 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and neurological disorders.
More than 100 Australian children with a family history of Type 1 diabetes are currently being screened in the Cord Reinfusion in Diabetes (CORD) study, conducted through the hospital’s Kids Research Institute and funded by cord blood bank Cell Care Australia.
Sonya Hinchion told AAP her daughter Lucy’s blood has been stored since birth in the hope it would eventually help her seven-year-old sister, Ava, who developed Type 1 diabetes just before she turned four.
Ava’s cord blood was never stored because they have no family history of the disease, Ms Hinchion said. But after testing positive for two antibodies herself, Lucy became at high risk of developing the condition.
Ms Hinchion said all of Lucy’s frozen cord blood was used in the ‘textbook’ 20-minute procedure last week. ‘I think as treatments go, it is one of the easiest and most straightforward things you can do,’ she said.