Umbilical Cord Blood – The Gift of Healing

by sctadmin on December 30, 2010

The Gift of Healing Umbilical Cord Blood

The blood found in the umbilical cord and placenta following a baby’s birth was discovered in 1978 to be a rich source of haematopoietic cells and stem cells.  This tissue that was previously discarded so readily has now become the focus of much medical research and innovation with a network of private facilities springing up offering cord blood banking for families and public cord blood banks encouraging parents to register as donors. Although stem cell treatment using cord blood is so far fairly limited, with leukaemia, and other blood disorders the major applications, there are potentially hundreds of uses for the stem cells in the cord blood in terms of therapeutic application.

Cord Blood - The Gift of Life

Cord Blood – The Gift of Life

In the UK the NHS has a programme which is linked with numerous other countries around the world as part of a reciprocal agreement to provide access to cord blood in order to increase the pool of possible donors for treating conditions such as leukaemia.  Finding a matching donor, and conducting a bone marrow transplant to treat this blood-borne disease can be time-consuming, painful, and have health consequences for the donor themselves.  By using cord blood these difficulties are being overcome making this disease, and other, similar blood problems, such as thalassaemia, more easily treated.

Donating Cord Blood

Although it remains highly unlikely that a family who banks their child’s cord blood privately will ever actually use that blood and its stem cells, the donation of the cord blood to a public bank is to be encouraged.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents to consider donating the cord blood rather than opting for a private storage facility, stressing that, unless there is a specific family disease (particularly in an older sibling of the new baby) that could be treated with this cord blood, they may be better adding to the public donor pool instead.  The likelihood of treatment being available for a loved one, should they become sick, is increased as more and more parents give the gift of healing cord blood to a public cord blood bank.

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