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In an Australian first, parents can now freeze their baby’s umbilical cord tissue to be used in treatments later in life.

Scientists at Monash Institute of Medical Research believe stem cells found in cord tissue could one day be used to treat diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and Parkinsons.

Professor Mark Kirkland says: “It’s is an insurance policy for down the track for many diseases that are currently being researched in clinical trials across the world.

“We think having these cells stored from the time of birth for your own use has enormous potential.”

18-day-old twins Asha and Maya are among the first Australian babies to have their cord tissue collected and stored.

Grandmother Gertrude Nayak decided to provide a unique gift to her twin baby granddaughters, paying for their umbilical cord tissue to be harvested and frozen.

She explains her reasons: “These are absolute miracle babies and we’re so pleased to have them. I thought this was the best thing I could do for them.”

The babies were born at just 30 weeks and had a difficult start to life.

It’ll cost just over $2,000 to harvest the cord tissue and blood but the twins’ grandmother says the money is a good investment for their future health.

Their mum Anita says storing their cord blood makes her feel more confident for their future.

“Given that the girls are identical, we could take one set of cells and actually use them for both of them if they’re ever needed in the future.”

For more information, visit www.monashinstitute.org and www.cellcareaustralia.com

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