About Cord Blood and Banking Cord Blood
What is Cord Blood ?
Cord blood, or umbilical cord blood, is the blood remaining in your child's umbilical cord after birth. It is a rich, non-controversial source of stem cells that can only be collected at the time of birth.
Why bank your Baby's Cord Blood ?
For most families, banking their baby's cord blood offers peace of mind that should there be a need, their family’s stem cells are readily available. Still others choose cord blood banking because they are excited about the potential that cord blood stem cells may someday be used to treat diabetes, heart disease and stroke in the future. Naturally, there are those who bank because of family history or because there is an existing medical need for a cord blood transplant.
What is the difference between public Cord Blood Banks & private Cord Blood Banks ?
When deciding what to do with your cord blood you have three choices: donate to a public bank, contract with a private bank or discard it as medical waste. A public bank (non-profit) like the American Red Cross takes in donations for use of the greater public. A private bank (for-profit) offers you the opportunity to bank exclusively for you and your family making the stem cells available when you need them most, allowing treatment to begin almost immediately, without time spent searching for a match. Plus, cord blood stem cells are a perfect match for the baby and can potentially be used to treat other family members. (From cordbloodbank.com)
What are the risks for the baby &/or his mother during collection ?
There aren't any risks for baby neither for mother. The cord blood is collected after your baby has been born and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut. Moreover, the cord blood that is being collected is blood that would routinely be thrown away. The collection is painless, easy, and safe for mother and baby. Your caregiver will not alter their normal birthing process in any way, except to collect your baby's cord blood instead of throwing it away. The average time for cord blood collection is about 5 minutes.
About Stem Cells
What are stem cells ?
Stem Cells are the building blocks of our blood and immune systems. They are found throughout the body including in bone marrow, cord blood and peripheral blood. They are particularly powerful because they have the ability to treat, repair and/or replace damaged cells in the body.
What is the difference between Cord Blood Stem Cells, Embryonic Stem Cells & adult stem cells ?
> Adult Stem Cells: Adult stem cells are found in bone marrow (the vehicle carrying these stem cells) and require invasive surgery to acquire. Also, finding a matching donor for a bone marrow transplant via a public bank can be difficult and sometimes impossible.
> Embryonic Stem Cells: Derived from an embryo (sperm meets the egg) are highly controversial and often in the news and at the heart of many moral and ethical debates.
> Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells: Umbilical cord blood offers a perfectly natural, controversy-free method of acquiring stem cells. (The Vatican approves of cord blood banking.) Cord blood stem cells offer many advantages over other stem cells. They are collected in a risk-free, five-minute procedure at the time of birth that is painless for both mother and baby. Also, stem cells from cord blood are better than stem cells from bone marrow because they are less prone to “graft vs. host disease” (GVHD – an immune system attack by donor cells against the recipient) and other complications relating to the recipient body rejecting foreign cells. Most importantly, banked cord blood is available when you and your family need it most, allowing treatment to begin almost immediately, without time spent searching for a match. Plus, cord blood stem cells are a perfect match for the baby and can potentially be used to treat other family members.
What are the diseases that can be treated by Stem Cell Transplantation ?
> Amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia
> Aplastic anemia
> Blackfan-Diamond syndrome
> Fanconi anemia
> Globoid cell leukodystrophy
> Gunther disease
> Hunter syndrome
> Hurler syndrome
> Kostmann syndrome
> Lesch-Nyhan syndrome
> Osteopetrosis Refractory anemia
> Severe combined immunodeficiency
> Sickle cell anemia
> Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome
> X-linked lymphoproliferative disorder
> Acute lymphocytic leukemia
> Acute myelocytic leukemia
> Chronic myelogenous leukemia
> Juvenile chronic myelogenous leukemia
> Lymphoproliferative Disorders – Hodgkins Disease/Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
> Therapeutic use; post high dose chemotherapy
> Refractory anemia with excess blasts
Potential Cord Blood Stem Cell Applications
> Alzheimer’s disease
> Parkinson’s Disease
> Spinal Cord Injury
> Heart Disease
> Liver Disease
> Muscular Dystrophy
And many others (check the "news" page for other diseases).