Posted on Apr 19, 2019, 5 p.m.
Falsehoods and actions spouted from liars and thieves should not be allowed to detract from legitimate research and advances that has made umbilical cord blood visionary in its regenerative powers.
Days of simply discarding umbilical cords connecting mother and child are long over, modern day technologies are able to save these as the blood inside can be preserved in a bank; umbilical cords contain stem cells with the potential to save the lives of those with leukemia, lymphoma, or sickle cell disease.
Stem cell treatments have been making the headlines for both good and bad reasons. Recently they have been gaining bad publicity due to some companies that are being accused of selling unproven treatments that may harm patients such as in the case of a New York attorney filing a suit against a company that was allegedly performing rogue procedures on patients with a wide range of medical conditions. Unfortunately it only takes one bad apple to make the whole lot look dirty.
Advancements in the medical industry have revealed legitimate life saving uses of cord blood that should not be tainted by unscrupulous actions. Take into account a child who successfully had leukemia treatments, now the mother pregnant once more will be storing her new baby’s cord blood at birth as an insurance policy in case her first child suffered a recurrence at suggestion of the obstetrician, because blood from a sibling stands higher chances of being a suitable match for transplant. Or transplants in which a few ounces of banked cord blood was shipped to hospitals to use in those who could not create enough healthy blood cells of their own to help their blood counts return to normal.
There are a few impediments that may influence parents against the risk free practice of banking life saving cord blood. Some obstetricians believe a brief wait before clamping the cord may enhance a child’s well being, but this delay will compromise the volume and quantity of collected cord blood cells. Cost is another influence, which varies depending on whether the bank is private or public, but donating cord blood to a public bank for use outside the family is free. Private banking for the baby/family has upfront costs and maintenance fees; expectant parents with children that have a history of cancer can often find financial assistance.
Worldwide banked cord blood cells have been used to save lives in over 40,000 transplants to treat genetic disorders. While all transplants have pros and cons cord blood is easier to collect than bone marrow, it generates less life threatening graft versus host disease, and it can be used with less stringent HLA matching. That being said mobilized peripheral blood engrafts faster than bone marrow, which grafts faster then cord blood; researchers are now showing ways to accelerate engraftment of blood cells.
Fact is that umbilical cord blood is important for many patients from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds who may encounter difficulties in finding compatible donors. Progress in healthcare benefits us all, research is underway to improve cord blood procedures, as well as to determine if cord blood may help with birth asphyxia, autism, stroke, cerebral palsy, and other uses.
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This article is not intended to provide medical endorsement, advice, diagnosis or treatment.