Guest Post: Cord Blood Donation

I wish I would have been more educated on cord blood donations when I had my children. Thanks to Chloe Parker’s guest post below, I can share this information with you.   Benefits Of Cord Blood Most people are aware of the importance of blood donation.  Fewer individuals, however, have heard of cord blood donation.  Unlike regular blood, cord blood can only be donated at the time of birth since it involves draining of the blood from umbilical cord and placenta immediately after a baby is born.  Unless donated, the blood in these tissues will be discarded as medical waste.  This practice actually is a waste, since cord blood is among the most important and promising medical resources available at this time. What makes cord blood special? Cord blood contains stem cells, which are considered to be the “building blocks” not only of blood itself, but also of the human immune system.  Stem cells are invaluable in medical treatment because they are capable of differentiating themselves into a wide range of different tissues.  This allows them to treat and repair cells that have been damaged by various conditions, including a number of childhood diseases. What diseases can umbilical cord blood help to treat? Cord blood is now an indispensable part of treatments for many conditions that afflict children.  These include various types of cancer as well as bone marrow disorders, diseases of the blood, immune deficiencies, and problems with metabolism.  In all, more than 80 different diseases or conditions can now be successfully treated with procedures that rely on cord blood stem cells. The varieties of cancer that can respond to stem cell treatment encompass five types of leukemia and four different lymphomas, including both non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s conditions.  Cord blood is also being used to treat lymphomatoid granulomatosis, which affects the lungs, skin, and nervous system as well as myelodysplastic syndrome, which can cause patients to experience severe anemia. Blood disorders being treated with cord blood stem cells include some direct forms of anemia as well, including the genetic disorders of sickle-cell anemia and Cooley’s anemia.  In the United States, sickle-cell anemia is relatively common in the African-American community; approximately one in every 500 African-American children born will inherit the condition.  Cooley’s anemia affects several ethnic groups and can be inherited by those with Asian, Mediterranean, or African-American ancestors. Bone marrow failures that can be treated with stem cells include Evan’s syndrome, Glanzmann’s disease, Kostmann’s syndrome, and Schwachman syndrome.  Cord blood stem cells are also important for treating immune system failures such as juvenile dermatomyositis.  Children suffering from JDM exhibit skin rashes in the early stage and profound muscle weakness later on. In addition, many children with cerebral palsy are now receiving treatment that includes transfusions of their own stem cells, saved from their cord blood when they were born.  Although this treatment is not yet considered a complete cure, physicians and researchers do consider it helpful in alleviating the symptoms of cerebral palsy. What The Future Holds Because of the growing practice of umbilical cord banking, scientists are able to explore further advantages in treatment options offered by the stem cells present in cord blood.  What makes this possible is the willingness of parents to donate cord blood so that this lifesaving research can continue.  Parents can also choose to store their child’s blood for family use if they prefer not to donate to a public cord blood bank.

2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Cord Blood Donation”

  1. I did not know all that important info about cord blood! Medical science is doing some amazing things treating so many disorders and diseases with stem cells it is really exciting. Definitely must spread the word about this since you only have one opportunity to do it at the birth of your child.

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