When a baby is born and the umbilical cord is cut, the blood left in the umbilical cord and placenta is usually discarded as medical waste. Not any more, as such blood has been found to be a very important and rich source of stem cells, and stem cells is mankind’s latest hope in its battle against age-old fatal diseases.
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that eventually become the different types of blood cells. And as of today, about 70 medical disorders have been treated with such cells, specifically those taken from the umbilical cord. Such cells are very important in the treatment of, say, leukemia, or cancer of the blood. When patients undergo radiation therapy or chemotherapy, their stock stem cells are destroyed, leaving them in a very vulnerable, almost deadly condition. Traditionally, they receive transplant from a donor via bone marrow transplant or direct normal blood transfusion. These two sources of stem cells are fraught with pain and side-effects, and it is tricky to find a donor match.
On the other hand, stem cells from umbilical cord blood are very easy to collect and transplant, and it is not painful to administer. Moreover, it is not difficult to find a family member that can provide a match. And the greatest thing of all is that umbilical cord blood is almost always free of any contamination or infection.
Stem cell transplants can save lives of people with serious diseases, such as leukemia (cancer of the white blood cells) and other cancers, or those with serious blood disorders (aplastic anemia). Recently, it has been found that such cells taken from cord blood can also be used in the treatment of brain injury, cerebral palsy, type 1 diabetes, and heart disorders.
Because of its obvious importance, umbilical cord blood and its storage in an established cord blood bank upon the birth of a baby is becoming a hot issue. The good thing is that parents nowadays have this risk-free choice.
For more information regarding how storing cord blood can protect you and your child’s future, check out umbilical cord blood.