Interview with StemLife’s new CEO, Ms. Yap Eng Gee, who is leading the exciting development of StemLife Berhad, the pioneer of cord blood banking industry in Malaysia and the subsidiary of Cordlife Group Limited. StemLife’s CEO, Ms. Yap Eng Gee gives a glimpse into how StemLife Berhad aims to achieve global recognition as the leading stem cell company in Regenerative Medicine.
I am an accountant and was the Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of TMC Life Sciences Berhad, an investment holding company primarily operating a multi-disciplinary tertiary care medical centre (Tropicana Medical Centre). Prior to that, I also served as CFO to Pantai Holdings Berhad, which has a network of hospitals marketed under two brand names – Pantai Hospital and Gleneagles Hospital.
Q: COULD YOU DESCRIBE THE KEY FEATURES OF STEMLIFE AND WHAT PRINCIPLES IS IT BASED ON?
StemLife is a consumer healthcare company that serves the needs and well being of the baby and mother. Our key focus is to address and bring awareness to our potential clients and their families by providing comprehensive protection for their children every step of the way, from baby cord blood and cord lining collection to testing, processing and storage, ensuring CARE and QUALITY as our number one commitment priority.
Since our establishment in 2001, we have to-date more than 60,000 cord units stored with us and recorded 15 successful cord blood transplants for thalassemia, cerebral palsy, brain injury and leukemia. Being a subsidiary of Cordlife Group Limited (CGL), we are part of the largest cord blood banking group in Asia with cord blood bank facilities in 7 countries (Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand).
StemLife will continue to invest in the educational and promotional activities so as to spread awareness on the benefits of saving baby’s cord blood and cord lining.
Q: WHY SHOULD PARENTS CONSIDER TO STORE CORD BLOOD?
The baby’s cord blood and placenta contains rich source of very young and immature cells that are more viable than the adult bone marrow stem cells. Stem cells have the remarkable ability to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. They can regenerate into identical cells or form new cells which make them very valuable as they can be used to repair or replace cells that have been changed or lost.
Umbilical cord blood have been known to treat over 80 blood related diseases. More than 35,000 cord blood stem cell transplants have been done worldwide. The scores of diseases currently being treated, coupled with the promising future potentials being discovered every day, make the value of saving baby’s cord blood even more valuable and priceless. It is a one-time opportunity ONLY at birth to collect and store the baby’s umbilical cord blood and cord lining. Researchers and scientists all over the world are working in research and clinical trials in the hope of achieving major medical breakthroughs to treat more medical conditions.
Individuals who have their cord blood and cord tissue banked will have an advantage and potential to utilize cord blood and cord tissue stem cells in emerging treatments in the future. Whether it is to protect your family’s future health or just for peace of mind. At the very least, it may be able to save someone’s life.
Q: WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF STEMLIFE TO THE CORD BLOOD BANKING COMMUNITY?
StemLife has and will continuously invest in education and spread awareness on the potential and benefits of saving baby’s cord blood and cord lining to the public and medical fraternity. Being a member of the Malaysian Association for Cell Therapy (MACT), we get to meet with members of the stem cell industry and health ministry authority to share latest development and update on stem cell research, clinical trials and technology done globally and here in Malaysia as well as discussion on industry concerns and regulations.
Q: WHY SHOULD PARENTS CHOOSE STEMLIFE?
Finding a reliable cord blood bank is crucial. Pricing should not be the key factor. It is vital that a cord blood bank has the experience, quality standards and care for handling, shipping, and storing cord blood. Financial stability and transparency is another important factor to consider to ensure baby’s cord blood is safely stored and safeguarded.
CARE and QUALITY are our number one commitment priority. StemLife has been established since 2001 with more than 15 years experience in cord blood collection and storage. Entrusted by more than 60,000 parents who have stored their baby’s cord blood stem cells with us, we have successfully released 15 of our client’s baby cord blood stem cells for the treatment of thalassemia, cerebral palsy, brain injury and leukemia.
StemLife is now part of the Cordlife Group Limited (CGL), which is listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange and is the largest cord blood banking group in Asia region with cord blood bank facilities in 7 countries and more than 180,000 cord blood units stored.
Based on the last financial announcement prior to delisting, StemLife had cash reserve and liquid investment of more than RM70 million as at 31 December 2016, which speaks for our financial stability and capability for long term maintenance of the storage facility.
Q: COULD YOU SHARE WITH US ONE OF STEMLIFE’S SUCCESSFUL TRANSPLANT AND HOW DID IT CHANGE THE LIVES OF THAT FAMILY?
Out of the 15 stem cell units successfully released for medical treatments, an example of using sibling’s cord blood stem cells had helped to save the life of a leukemia child patient who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Leukaemia Survivor - Angel
At the age of 6 months, Angel was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). Doctors had given her less than 10% chance of survival. Further anguish was brought to her mother who was considering aborting her second pregnancy. Following the advice from her gynaecologist, the mother gave birth to her second baby in 2004 and had his cord blood stem cells collected and stored with StemLife.
The baby’s cord blood stem cells were found to be a perfect match for Angel. Following the cord blood transplant using her baby brother’s cord blood stem cells, Angel regained her health which her parents were very grateful. Angel is now a healthy child, thanks to her brother’s cord blood stem cells which had given her a new lease of life.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR 3-5 YEARS GOAL FOR STEMLIFE?
There is still so much potential for our business to grow in Malaysia. Our mid-term goal is to have presence in all major cities with high birth rate in Malaysia.
We will continuously educate and increase awareness to reach as many parents as possible on the potential benefits of cord blood and cord lining stem cells. For our next level of growth, we are looking at delving further into mother and baby care business, by developing and offering new products and services with the reliability and unrivaled care that we have been known for.
Since its establishment in 2001, StemLife has processed over 60,000 units and assisted in 15 cord blood stem cell transplant applications. StemLife goes the extra mile to provide their clients with the most comprehensive protection possible for their children.
Stemlife Berhad was accorded the prestigious award “Malaysia Stem Cell Banking Company of the Year 2017” by Frost Sullivan.
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