Umbilical Cord Blood Service

Cord Blood banking enables the storage of the umbilical cord blood of a newborn baby at birth, so that it can be used in the future to treat either the donor child itself or one of its siblings or a family member. Since 1988 Cord blood stem cells have been used to treat more than 79 life threatening diseases and disorders, in over 35.000 transplants with about 5.000 patients every year being treated using umbilical cord blood. In fact, since 2005, the number of Cord Blood transplants in pediatric applications, outnumber the bone marrow transplants.

 

 

What are Stem Cells

Stem Cells are a special class of cells commonly referred to as the body’s “master cells”.

 

Life begins with a single Stem Cell that divides and produces more Stem Cells which in turn start to form all the tissues and organs of the embryo. They continue to do so since they are responsible for the growth of the infant and his/her development into adulthood. Stem Cells continuously divide throughout life to replenish ageing cells, serving the body as a sort of internal repair system.

 

Our blood system is also created by Stem Cells. Blood Stem Cells found in the bone marrow continue to divide throughout life to create new blood. They have the unique capacity to create any type of blood cell we need: The white blood cells that fight infections, the platelets that are responsible for clotting and stopping bleeding and the red blood cells that carry oxygen to all tissues and organs.

 

There are certain serious conditions (malignancies) when the blood forming system in the bone marrow becomes ineffective and cancer cells take over.  In such conditions it would be essential to destroy the diseased bone marrow and replace it with bone marrow cells from donors to create a new blood forming system.

 

That is where cord blood banking comes in.

 

Umbilical Cord Blood & Stem Cells

Umbilical cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord after a baby is born and the cord is cut. Not so long ago, this blood as well as the cord and the placenta were regarded as clinical waste and were discarded.  Since the discovery that cord blood is a rich source of haematopoietic stem cells and since the first transplant in 1988, this valuable source of stem cells is no longer considered as a clinical waste. Public and family banks were created to process and cryopreserve this blood for future use.

Cord blood contains all the normal elements of blood - red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. It is also rich in haematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells, similar to those found in bone marrow. The Haematopoietic stem cells of every embryo are found in the liver and the spleen and prior to labour, these cells begin to migrate from the liver through the blood stream towards the bones for the formation of our bone marrow. As a result of this migration of stem cells the blood trapped in the umbilical cord may be collected through a painless procedure, processed and cryopreserved or banked as a bone marrow graft for future needs and medical use. 

 

Uses of UCB

Up until the 1980’s, science applied only one source of these special Stem Cells: the bone marrow, the home of the blood forming Stem Cells. Bone marrow Stem Cell transplants require an exact match between donor and recipient, and sometimes it can be difficult to find a matching donor for a patient. Statistically, one out of three patients in need of a transplant is unable to find a suitable donor with a compatible graft. Cord Blood is a valid alternative graft. Furthermore, it may be used even in cases where there is mismatch – not full compatibility and still provide successful treatment results.

 

Cryopreserved UCB has already been tested and thus is readily available for an application to a family member should the need arise. Cryopreserving the Umbilical Cord Blood at Lifeline, allows families to have a graft readily available for their own use.

 

Cord Blood Benefits

The embryo’s blood is not fully matured and the mother’s blood and immune system will assist in fighting any infections. This is an advantage when cord blood is used to treat a patient other than the donor infant such as a sibling: being immature, umbilical cord blood is less recognizable by the recipient patient's immune system and this benefits the patient as it reduces the chances of rejection in a transplant.

 

Cord Blood Stem Cells compared to bone marrow Stem Cells are younger, more versatile, while they have not been exposed to factors such as diseases or the environment. Their therapeutic potential is being explored for a number of conditions that currently have no cure.

 

Cord Blood Banking Advantages

 

  • Cord Blood can benefit Siblings with increased chances of matching
  • Less risk of complications when used in transplants
  • Ability to use one’s own stem cells for certain conditions that currently lack medical treatment options, also known as “autologous transplantation”
  • Readily available to the family without long periods of searching for suitable donors
  • Available immediately for early treatment which minimizes the possibility of disease progression
  • Tested for its safety for use in a transplant

 

Expand the cord’s Lifetime

Besides the 80 or so conditions in which cord blood is used as part of the treatment, thorough research is being conducted in universities and research centers all over the world in an attempt to find a cure for several common conditions like diabetes, neurological and degenerative diseases.

 

Cord Blood Banking offers your family a once in a lifetime opportunity to collect and save these powerful Stem Cells found in Cord Blood to be used in the treatment of a range of conditions.