Did you know that transplanted stem cells from umbilical cord blood are used in the treatment of more than 80 diseases? As research and testing continue to gain traction, it is anticipated that these stem cells could be used in the future to treat hundreds of diseases and injuries we cannot even begin to imagine at this early stage.
If you wish to ensure that your family has the opportunity to use their own umbilical cord stem cells later in life, be sure to consult with your doctor and a cord blood banking specialist during or prior to pregnancy (as umbilical cord blood can only be stored at the moment of birth, and a few steps are necessary to prepare for collection and storage).
This is how the process of cord blood transplanting works:
Cord blood is saved and stored from birth, if the parents have chosen to undergo this process. After the umbilical cord is cut, blood is removed from the placenta and is sent to a cord blood banking facility where it is kept frozen in a highly controlled environment.
Before a transplant takes place, a patient may have had rounds of chemotherapy and or surgeries to help mitigate any issues when the cord blood is transplanted.
Cord Blood can be stored in either public or private banks. Public banks allow doctors to search a database to attempt finding a match for their patients in need of a transplant. Private banks reserve the cord blood exclusively for the child to whom it belongs, for that child or their family member’s use later in life. Learn more about the differences between public and private cord blood banking here.
During the eventual transplant process, cord blood is transferred into a patient similarly to how a blood transfusion would occur. The cord blood carries potent stem cells and these are injected into the patient’s body intravenously. The intravenous part of the transplant takes approximately 15 minutes. The stem cells have now been placed in the blood stream, directed toward the bone marrow. The process is called engraftment; the stem cells help produce new white and red blood cells and platelets.
After a transplant, the patient would remain under their doctor’s care while the engraftment process occurs, and this could last several weeks.
Cord Blood transplants are currently used to treat more than 80 diseases, and thinking ahead to the future before your child is born could save the life of those you love!