A newborn’s umbilical cord contains blood that can be obtained immediately after birth. Collection is simple and the process is not harmful to the infant. Cord blood contains potent stem cells that can regenerate healthy immune and blood systems. Currently, cord blood stem cells have been utilized in over 35,000 transplants globally. Research is also being performed on cord blood as a possible remedy for diseases without a cure.
Uses for Cord Blood Stem Cells
Today, cord blood stems cells treat approximately 80 diseases, including a broad spectrum of blood disorders, genetic diseases, and cancers. Stem cells are introduced into a patient’s bloodstream in a cord blood transplant and work to heal and repair damaged tissues and cells. A healthy new immune system is created when a transplant is successful.
- Cancers. Cord blood transplants are used to treat a large variety of cancers, such as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma, and Neuroblastoma.
- Blood disorders. Some of the blood disorders currently treatable by cord blood transplants include severe aplastic anemia, Myleofibrosis, and Sickle Cell Disease.
- Immune disorders. Chronic Granulomatous Disease, Evans Syndrome, and Thymic Dysplasia are a few of the immune disorders treatable with cord blood infusions.
- Metabolic disorders. Gaucher Disease, Metachromatic Leukodysrophy, and Tay Sachs are three of the many metabolic disorders the cord blood infusions can treat.
Cord blood can be stored frozen and ready to use, transplants do not require an exact match, are associated with a lower incidence of graft vs. host disease, and decreased risk of viral infections.
Cord Blood Banks
Cord blood transplants provides hope for patients who without a matching family donor, an unrelated donor that is a suitable match, or those with no time to search for a donor. Cord blood stem cells may generate all the cellular components of the blood and immune system. The goal of National Cord Blood Awareness month is to create an understanding of the importance of donating cord blood to a cord blood bank.