Category: Helping Hands Blog
Published: Thursday, 14 July 2016 13:43
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baby-250Cord Blood Donation

Buzz within the medical and scientific community at the beginning of this century was about the miraculous healing nature of cord blood. Scientists had determined that they could take stem cells from the blood and use them as foundations for healing a list of ailments. Researchers felt that they were on the edge of great discoveries. Yet the thought of storing the blood for future emergencies was still so new that, in 2001, my son’s birth doctor wrinkled up his nose and said he could not think of any reason to save the precious fluid.

 

Cord blood is the blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby’s birth. This particular fluid is rich in stem cells which cannot be obtained by drawing blood or tissue samples in a child or adult. Collection of the cord blood must be done immediately after birth, but then the cells can be cryopreserved for many years.

Today, we know that cord blood can be used to treat both the donor and anonymous matches. In most cases of cancer and genetic diseases one’s own blood cannot be used, instead donor cells are provided. Stem cells have been used to treat over 80 diseases including several types of leukemia, cerebral palsy, lymphoma, anemias, immune system disorders, metabolic disorders and some solid tumors. Research is currently in progress for numerous additional diseases.

One new example of the use of stem cells is growing revitalized organs from donated organs. In this case an organ such as a heart or kidney is donated then goes through a process where the organ is stripped of any living cells leaving behind a “clean” organ to be used as scaffolding which is then seeded with the recipient’s stem cells. The cells begin to grow and eventually a complete organ is developed. Millions of people who die every year from lack of donor organs will gain new opportunities for life once growing organs becomes mainstreamed. (Watch a video about this new process.

There are private companies, hospitals and research facilities that collect cord blood. Families can pay for storage if they desire to use it later. Current rates for processing and storage run about $2500 and about $150 per year for storage fees.

Blood can be donated for research and donor use too. There is no charge for donation; however a patient receiving stem cells from a blood bank may be charged as much as $30,000.

With new discoveries on the way, cord blood and the stem cells it contains will become even more important and in demand. This month, During Cord Blood Donation Month, people should consider cord blood donation and storage when having children and make a better world around them.

 

 

Guest blog by Helen Noscut

 

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