Cord Blood

Additional Cord Blood Facts for Expectant Mothers

WHAT IS CORD BLOOD AND WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF CORD BLOOD PRESERVATION?

Cord blood refers to the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and in the placenta after it is separated from the newborn following childbirth. The umbilical cord and placenta (also known as the afterbirth) are expelled and usually discarded after childbirth. The blood found in these organs is rich in a special cell type called stem cells. Stem cells not only generate all the cell types found in blood but they can be used to treat a variety of life-threatening diseases, including leukemia, other cancers, blood and immune disorders and, more recently, sickle cell anemia.  

 

WHY DONATE CORD BLOOD?

Cord blood can be donated for one of two reasons: First, a parent may choose to donate the cord blood for use by the child or a sibling in the event one of those life-threatening diseases develops. In such a case the cord blood stem cells are stored and cannot be accessed except by you or your child at the age of consent. Second, the cord blood can be donated to the community, similar in principle to a routine blood donation. Under these circumstances, the cord blood would be released for use by a qualified recipient, identified through a registry.

 

THE ADVANTAGES OF CORD BLOOD

1. It means immediate availability of matching stem cells for your child, eliminating the need to search for a suitable bone marrow donor.

2. Cord blood has a better chance of being used by a sibling of the same parents -  considerably higher than a bone marrow match.

3. Increased safety. Cord blood transplants have resulted in a significantly lower incidence of life-threatening side effects, which occur in a large percentage of bone marrow transplantations.

4. Cord blood stem cells are especially suited for use in gene therapy. Already, through gene therapy, cord blood cells have been used to cure children born with SCIDS, otherwise known as the “bubble boy” disease.  Researchers are optimistic about similar treatments for AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.

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