Imagine this. Your toddler has been diagnosed with leukaemia. They need a bone marrow transplant, but there isn’t a matching adult donor. They may die. Thankfully life-saving umbilical cord blood from stem cells, donated by an anonymous mum and her newborn baby, save your little one’s life.
It’s a true story.
If you’ve ever asked the question what is cord blood used for, should we keep cord blood, or who needs cord blood, this article reveals everything you need to know. As it turns out, stem cells are extraordinary. They’re used in a wide variety of healthcare settings to heal people of every age and improve people’s quality of life, and one of the best sources of these powerful cells is the umbilical cord.
Is cord blood banking worth it?
Should we keep cord blood? In our experience the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Cord blood banking is always worth it, an investment in the future health and wellbeing of your child, their siblings, yourself and your partner.
Cord blood is simply blood from your baby. It stays in the umbilical cord and placenta after you give birth, and it’s easy to collect, painless and harmless for you and your baby. Umbilical cord blood banks like ours store it, cryogenically frozen, until someone who’s a genetic match needs a transplant.
Blood from umbilical cords contains ‘progenitor’ stem cells. They’re used for life-saving transplants in people with leukaemia, serious blood disorders and much more. Sadly, much of the time, umbilical cord blood is discarded at birth. But you can choose to collect and freeze yours for the future, and more of us are doing exactly that every year.
How is cord blood used for your baby?
So what is cord blood used for? It’s used in many proven treatments and is also very useful in regenerative medicine.
Stem cells from cord blood can treat immune system disorders and genetic disorders, neurologic disorders, and some kinds of cancer, for example leukaemia and lymphoma. They’ve been used to treat various metabolic diseases and to treat sickle-cell anaemia. They’re helpful in treating diseases of the blood, heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. Scientists suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Basically, stem cells from the cord blood of a genetically matching donor ‘regenerate’ the blood and immune system. That’s why, for a host of disorders, these cells are a potential gold mine for treatment and cure. The fluid is easy to collect. It contains ten times more stem cells than bone marrow. And cord blood stem cells are famously free from infectious diseases, around 50% less likely to be rejected by the patient’s immune system than stem cells taken from adults.
How is cord blood used in transplant medicine?
Cord blood contains ‘hematopoietic’ stem cells, immature cells with the ability to develop into every type of blood cell, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. These hematopoietic cells are the same kind used for bone marrow transplants and, so far, are thought to be able to treat more than 80 types of disease.
Who needs cord blood? All of us!
Who needs cord blood? We all do. Research into the benefits of cord blood banking is ongoing, and the results are exciting. There are high hopes around more ways to use these clever cells in future, including research into stem cell treatment for Alzheimer’s, heart failure, even serious spinal cord damage. Will you choose to have a cord blood collection after giving birth?
Speak to our team about banking your baby’s cord blood – download our brochure or call our sales team on 01752 753723.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
BSc (Hons) Microbiology
Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.