Umbilical cord blood banking is one of the recent discoveries of medical sciences. People, especially parents to be, are usually surprised at the thought of storing a useless part of the baby right after birth. But just like organ donation, this cord blood banking procedure must also be known, and understood by parents, and general public.
Umbilical cord blood is basically the blood that is collected from the umbilical cord and the placenta right after the child’s birth. Until recently, the umbilical cord was considered as a waste, and was discarded. However, now specifically in advanced countries, parents are getting educated about storing the blood drawn from umbilical cord, because of its importance as a cure for stem cell transplants and certain other diseases. This is because umbilical cord contains stem cells, which are only present in bone marrow, apart from the cord.
Stem cells are important as remedy for many degenerative diseases such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, adrenoleukodystrophy, Burkitt’s lymphoma, chediak-higashi syndrome, Alpha mannosidosis, a megakaryocytic thrombocytopenia, congenital erythropoietin porphyria, chronic myelogenous leukemia, chronic granulomatous disease etc, all require a bone marrow transplant as the only treatment is extremely important to generate awareness about the value of cord blood as a potential source of stem cells. Traditional bone marrow transplant procedures are very complex, whereas, cord blood is something that is obtained within 5 minutes, and poses no harm or complication to the baby or the mother. The collection procedure is very simple, as a collection kit is used to collect the blood from the umbilical cord once it is cut from the baby’s body. However, storage of this blood must be done in a specialized facility, so that it remains free of contamination for the rest of its life.
Parents, especially mothers to be must be given counseling at the hospitals, so that they realize how important it is for the baby. Actually, these stem cells can be used later on in the child’s life, if he/she is unfortunate to have a disease that requires stem cell therapy. Also, these stem cells have a high probability of matching with any of the siblings, if the same case happens. Similarly, there are individuals who are suffering from cancerous diseases and are constantly searching for stem cell donors, so your baby’s cord blood could be donated to them.