In the first twenty years of umbilical cord blood stem cell transplants, doctors and researchers have already discovered more than 80 diseases that can be treated with these stem cells. Even if a disease in your family isn’t currently on the list of those treatable diseases, research is ongoing and new treatments are found all the time.
Treatment of genetic and serious diseases with umbilical cord stem cells represents the future of health care. Research also shows that transplant patients recover better when they receive stem cells from a related donor, instead of an unrelated donor. If a relative needs a stem cell transplant your baby’s cord blood stem cells could be a suitable match, especially if the patient is in the immediate family.
The very first cord blood transplant took place in October of 1988. Doctors saved the life of a five-year-old boy with Fanconi Anemia by giving him stem cells from the cord blood of his newborn baby sister. Nearly ten years later, in January 1998, a girl in Brazil received the first transplant of privately banked cord blood. She was also the first child to use her own cord blood. The reason her parents banked her cord blood years earlier? Their son had been treated for leukemia, and they thought storing their daughter’s cord blood was a good idea in case he relapsed. Instead, the girl developed neuroblastoma, and doctors gave her a transplant using her own blood.
Stories like this are not meant to scare parents into making a decision they are uncomfortable with. Rather, making people aware of the success stories and progress in research can help advance the efforts to save even more lives. Medical science and more parents than ever recognize the potential life-saving value of cord blood stem cells. Clinical trials are underway for treating conditions and diseases like diabetes, cerebral palsy and autism.
No matter your family history of disease, if you’re pregnant, you may wish to consider the choice to store cord blood. You have just one chance to do it – when your baby is born. Learn more to see if cord blood banking makes sense for you and your family.