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Cord Blood Banking And Cord Blood Stem Cells Save Lives

Posted Nov 27 2008 10:15am

I remember when my second oldest was born, the midwife asked if I wanted to cut the baby's umbilical cord. It was a tough bugger to cut, like cutting through a garden hose, but I got there. Prior to her birth we had discussed cord blood banking. It had been on the news quite a bit at the time. When we asked the mid wife, the answer was no, they didn't collect the umbilical cord or the umbilical cord blood. It's strange since we are only 100 miles from the third largest city in Australia, and they do collect the umbilical cord blood. You may be wondering why they collect umbilical cord blood?

Umbilical Cord Blood And Cord Blood Banking

Umbilical cord blood is not the mother's blood, it is the baby's blood therefore it is in its most basic form. In fact, it is full of stem cells, those little cells that has science going mad at present. Stem cells are the basic building blocks of our body.

Research at present has seen stem cells being trialled on individuals with spinal cord damage, various cancers such as leukemia, and the rebuilding or regeneration of our organs. There is hope that at some stage in the future they can take our stem cells and 'grow' new organs like a liver or heart. The best stem cells to use for this new science are those taken from a new born baby through umbilical cord - hence the name umbilical cord stem cells.

How Are Umbilical Cord Stem Cells Collected?

There are several methods used to collect umbilical cord blood. First, it should be remembered that this is not an invasive process. Once a baby is born, the umbilical cord is removed and along with the placenta, disposed of as hospital waste. There are some societies that collect these and either bury or burn them, but in most western societies, they thrown out as hospital waste.

Rather than throwing the umbilical cord and the umbilical cord blood out, either the complete umbilical cord is collected, or the umbilical cord blood is removed using a syringe. The umbilical cord blood is then sent away where the cord blood stem cells are removed and stored until required.

What Is Cord Blood Banking And A Cord Blood Registry?

As a new parent, you have two options for cord blood collection. The first is to 'donate' the cord blood. The umbilical cord stem cells are sent to a central cord blood registry. The cord blood stem cells are then used where the cord blood registry feels is best suited. They often have a waiting list of patients and scientist looking for cord blood stem cells. The most common use at present is for the treatment of juvenile leukemia where it has a high success rate - your baby's cord blood stem cells may well save another youngsters life.

The second option is to have the cord blood stem cells 'banked' for possible future use by your family, and in particular, your baby. There is nothing purer than the baby's own cord blood stem cells if he or she should become sick. Collection will cost around $2000 with an annual fee of around $100. If your child should ever become sick, this will be small price to pay to save their life.

The Future of Cord Blood Stem Cells

Science have looked upon cord blood stem cells as one of the holly grails of science. The ability to repair spinal problems and restore movement to para/quadriplegics has received a huge push due to recent progress in research. There are already 70 known diseases that can be cured using cord blood stem cells - the biggest problem has been the lack of cord blood stem cells to use. It is estimated that only one in fifty umbilical cord blood collections are made. If every baby's cord blood was collected then the lives of hundreds of children to could be improved.

What Can You Do To Help The Collection Of Cord Blood Stem Cells?

The best thing you can do to help increase in the amount of cord blood collected is to use the service. If you are pregnant, ask the hospital or midwife if they collect cord blood. If not, there are many agencies that will collect it, either for for public cord blood banking, or, if you are prepared to pay the price, your own personal cord blood banking. If friends or relatives are pregnant, get them to inquire about the process.

The more people who provide cord blood stem cells, particularly for research, the more likely it is that science will find ways to cure diseases such as juvenile diabetes, brain injuries and spinal column injuries. Why waste a valuable resource by throwing it into a hospital incinerator when it could be used to save lives. The umbilical cord - who would have thought that cord blood stem cells could do so much?

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