You might already know some basics about cord blood and stem cell transplants. Cord blood is one source of cells that can form new, healthy blood cells. Cord blood cells are collected from the umbilical cord after a baby is born to be stored for use when it’s needed to treat any one of dozens of diseases and conditions.
Did you know. . .?
Cord blood is always ready to use when a patient needs a transplant quickly.
Because the collection and processing is already complete, cord blood is always ready to use. Bone marrow and peripheral blood can take weeks before they can be harvested for use, giving cord blood an edge in timeliness.
Autologous transplants are always a 100% match.
An autologous transplant uses the baby’s own umbilical cord blood, and it is always a perfect match for their own stem cells. Depending on the condition being treated, using your own stem cells in a transplant is safer than using someone else’s, because your body will not reject them.
Syngeneic transplants are when the stem cell donor is the patient’s identical twin.
In those cases, there also is no risk of rejection and recovery is swift. Parents cannot donate umbilical cord blood from twins to a public cord blood bank. Public cord blood banks only accept donations when one baby is expected. Private banks rarely have such restrictions, making them viable option for banking cord blood with twins.
The majority of cord blood transplants have been for diseases of the blood or immune system and inherited diseases.
Those include several types of leukemia, anemia, sickle cell disease, and immunodeficiencies. More than 80 specific illnesses and conditions have been successfully treated with cord blood transplants.
More than 1 million units of cord blood are stored in family banks in the United States.
According to estimates, about 5 percent of parents now bank their baby’s cord blood. As parents become aware of the lifesaving potential of cord blood, this number is growing.
New England Cord Blood Bank is part of the New England Cryogenic Center (founded in 1971) and is considered one of the pioneers in processing and cryopreservation of human cells and tissue. Not every cord blood bank has this proven dedication and history behind it.