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  • Writer's pictureMed Insider

Wait a minute, there are medical benefits to the umbilical cord?

By Swathi Thiyagarajan

Highlights

  • National Cord Blood Awareness Month

  • What makes cord blood special?

  • Common Misconceptions

  • Current Research

  • Diseases that Cord Blood Benefits

  • Where to Donate

Did you know that the umbilical cord of a newborn could actually save a person's life? In fact, more than 30,000 people with serious diseases have been benefitted from cord blood treatment. It is a fascinating treatment, and it can help, or even cure, people who suffer from leukemia, blood disorders, immunodeficiencies, and metabolic disorders. July is National Cord Blood Awareness Month, so continue reading to learn more about a life-saving treatment, and how you can donate one day.

 

What is Cord Blood?


The umbilical cord attaches the baby to its mother. The blood within this cord can be collected by the doctors and can then be frozen and stored in a cord blood bank. But what about this

blood makes it so special and different from other blood?


What makes cord blood so beneficial and life-saving is because it contains stem cells, which help form red blood cells, white blood cells, nerves, and even cartilage (connective tissue). Therefore, cord blood is especially valuable to those who can not regenerate blood-forming cells.

 

Misconceptions


A common misconception amongst many people is that cord blood is a cure for all. Be wary of people saying this because cord blood is only beneficial for those with specific diseases affecting the blood and immune system. In fact, people may try to scam you into thinking that cord blood could cure your disease when in reality it won't. At the end of this article, you can find a list of all the types of conditions that cord blood has helped treat.

 

Current Research


Current research and clinical trials are being pursued where cord blood can one day be used for gene therapy, used to improve organ/tissue damage, and also used to slow the spread of diseases. If you are about to give birth any time soon, you should consider donating the cord blood or even storing it in a cord blood bank. However, storing your cord blood can be expensive, as it can cost between $1,000-$2,000 a month. Although many people end up not using their cord blood, you should consider donating it to research or to a public bank to further the progression of medical research.

 

History of Cord Blood


Cord blood was first used in 1988 for a patient with Fanconi anemia. Fanconi anemia is a genetic and rare disease that may result in bone marrow failure. Bone marrow can be found in the center of most bones, and it creates white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. The patient received the first-ever blood cord transplant from his sister, who did not have Fanconi Anemia disease. The transplant was a success and the patient is still alive today and disease-free.

 

Diseases where Cord Blood is Proven Efficient

  • Acute Myelofibrosis

  • Agnogenic Myeloid Metaplasia (Myelofibrosis)

  • Amyloidosis

  • Aplastic Anemia (Severe)

  • Beta Thalassemia Major

  • Blackfan-Diamond Anemia

  • Congenital Amegakaryocytic Thrombocytopenia (CAT)

  • Congenital Cytopenia

  • Congenital Dyserythropoietic Anemia

  • Dyskeratosis Congenita

  • Essential Thrombocythemia

  • Fanconi Anemia

  • Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia

  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome

  • Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH)

  • Polycythemia Vera

  • Pure Red Cell Aplasia

  • Refractory Anemia with Excess Blasts in Transition (RAEB-T)

  • Refractory Anemia with Ringed Sideroblasts (RARS)

  • Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome

  • Sickle Cell Disease

 

Cord Blood Donation


Donating your cord blood to the public cord bank is free. If you plan on donating your cord blood

after giving birth, make sure to talk to your doctor at least three months before the baby's due

date. Also, you should research to see whether your hospital donates to public cord banks. You

will need to sign consent papers and forms of your family history to make sure that your cord

blood is disease-free. To research more information, check out these official websites about

donating your cord blood:


 

References

Commissioner, O. of the. (n.d.). Cord Blood: What You Need to Know. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/cord-blood-what-you-need-know.


Cord Blood Helped Me. Cord Blood Education for Parents, Health Professionals

and Students - Save the Cord Foundation. (n.d.). https://www.savethecordfoundation.org/real-stories.html.


U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020, September 28). Fanconi anemia:


V;, G. E. R. (n.d.). History of the clinical use of umbilical cord blood hematopoietic

cells. Cytotherapy. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16081348/#:~:text=The%20first%20cord%20blo

od%20(CB,collected%20and%20cryopreserved%20at%20birth.



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