Footballers using stem cells as 'repair kits'

Premiership footballers are storing stem cells from their newborn babies to use in case of their own career-threatening sports injuries, according to a report on Sunday.

They are freezing cells taken from the umbilical cord blood of their babies as a possible future cure for cartilage and ligament problems, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

Five professional footballers have frozen their children’s stem cells with Liverpool-based CryoGenesis International (CGI), and London-based Smart Cells, has done the same for three Premiership players in the past year.

One Premier League footballer, playing in the north-west of England, explained: “We decided to store our new baby’s stem cells for possible future therapeutic reasons, both for our children and possibly for myself.

“As a footballer, if you’re prone to injury it can mean the end of your career, so having your stem cells—a repair kit if you like—on hand makes sense,” added the player, who declined to be named.

Paul Griffiths, managing director of CGI, said: “This has been carried out experimentally. The stem cells are injected directly into the knee and because they have the same genetic code they start rebuilding.”

One professional footballer known to have stored stem cells for his children’s future use is Arsenal’s French international striker Thierry Henry, although there is no indication he intends them for his own use.

Over 11 000 British parents have in the past five years paid up to  1 500 ($2 831) to store their babies’ stem cells to use should their children become ill. - Sapa-AFP

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