Friday, 3 July 2015

Umbilical Cord Blood – Store or Donate?

Over the last decades, stem cell banking has become a significant medical practice for the treatment of a variety of diseases. Bone marrow has been considered as the primary source of stem cells for many years. But with the recent advancements in stem cell research, scientists have found the presence of master cells in the new-born’s umbilical cord blood. In the past, the umbilical cord that act as a lifeline to the baby is cut off and disposed right after the child birth. However, the discovery of perinatal stem cell presence in cord blood and umbilical cord tissue has given it a life-saving status. Since harvesting of umbilical cord tissue and blood is safe, quick and pain-less procedure, cord blood stem cell banking has been gaining immense popularity. Currently, cord blood stem cells are used to treat more than 80 life-threatening diseases which include leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease to name a few. 

Families can either bank or donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood (CB) and tissue. Banking CB at a private cord blood bank may cost you a pretty penny, whereas donation to a public bank is absolutely free of cost. If you are an expectant parent, then it is important to educate yourself about the importance and medical benefits of stem cell banking. Do spend enough time in research so that you can get a better understanding about the current therapies and future treatments using CB stem cells. If you have decided to store your baby’s cord blood, then it is important to plan ahead of time. Expectant parents who can’t afford to bank the cord blood at a private facility can think about public donation, as it can save a life. Sick patients who are in need for a stem cell transplant may benefit from your CB donation. So, have a detailed discussion with your doctor and family members in order to take an informed decision.

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