We all love a good superhero movie, don’t we? After watching them, we too would have often wished for some superpowers to ensure the well-being of our loved ones. But did you know that every baby is born with a potential superpower? That superpower comes in the form of tiny stem cells present in the umbilical cord blood that is, unfortunately, discarded after birth. Instead, if you choose to preserve them through stem cell banking, these cord blood stem cells can potentially protect your baby and your family from the impact of 80+ life-threatening diseases and more. Sounds amazing? Then let us tell you more…
Umbilical Cord Blood - The Basic Know-Hows!
The cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord following the birth of a baby. Adult bone marrow, peripheral blood, and the umbilical cord blood are all sources of hematopoietic stem cells1. These stem cells can be used to treat many diseases, including cancers, immune deficiencies and genetic disorders2. Stem cells are different from other cells in the body in many ways:
- They can divide and renew themselves over a long time.
- Stem cells are unspecialized cells. They have the potential to become specialized cells, such as muscle cells, blood cells, and brain cells.
Stem cells extracted from cord blood, called hematopoietic stem cells, are used efficiently in the treatment of blood-related conditions such as thalassemia, leukemia, etc3.
That was about what stem cells can do. Before we jump to their benefits, let us understand, with a few statistics below, why there is a growing need for stem cell transplants and how cord blood stem cells can fit in.
The Growing Demand For Stem Cell Transplants
Did you know? Globally, approximately 90,000 hematopoietic stem cell transplants will be carried out annually and the numbers might increase each year4.
As per another statistic, a disturbing trend has emerged in the field of cancer research that reveals an increase in childhood cancer cases in India. Childhood cancer cases account for nearly 3% of all cancers. Of about 3 lakh childhood cancers reported around the world, India accounts for nearly 50,000 each year5.
Based on this demand, bone marrow transplants are believed to be on a steady rise in India, every year. However, based on an experimental study, the chances of finding a matching donor for Indian ethnicity in multinational registries is a poor 16% and as low as 0.008% in Indian registries with fewer donors6.
There are other hurdles too that can arise when you consider a bone marrow transplant. Some of them are:
- Thrombocytopenia and acute bleeding post transplantation due to non-functioning bone marrow 7
- Viral or bacterial infections following transplantation8
- Failure of the graft (transplant) taking hold in the recipient’s marrow is a potential complication8
- Bone marrow transplant process requires finding a match, scheduling surgery and recovery. This can be quite a tiring experience, especially if the donor drops out at the last minute.
- The HLA-matching criteria is not as flexible as cord blood stem cells.
- Bone marrow sample extraction procedure can be painful.
- Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a serious and life-threatening complication of a bone marrow transplant, occurs when the donor's immune system reacts against the recipient's tissue9
In this scenario, umbilical cord blood stem cells might prove to be a better option. Want to know how? Then continue to read on
Cord Blood Stem Cells - Why They Are Better
Stem cells obtained from the umbilical cord have great potential in the field of transplantation medicine. The success rates of cord blood transplants are improving compared to bone marrow due to many reasons, such as:
- A perfect HLA match is important for bone marrow transplants. However, such a perfection isn’t very important for cord blood transplants as even a sample with a couple of mismatched antigens might work fine9. This saves you from the hassle of finding a 100% donor match.
- Umbilical cord blood is collected in advance, tested, and stored. It is readily available in times of need.
- You won’t have to worry about the donor backing off at the last minute.
- Umbilical cord blood has a lower risk of graft-vs-host disease (GVHD)10.
- Umbilical cord blood transplants have a high cell proliferation capacity11.
Benefits Of Cord Blood Banking For The Baby & The Family
The benefits of cord blood banking aren’t restricted to transplantation treatments alone. When you bank your baby’s cord blood stem cells, choose a bank that offers maximum benefits to your baby and family. For instance, LifeCell’s community banking program benefits are not only meant for your baby, but also extends to the entire family. Here’s how:
- LifeCell’s Community stem cell banking program protects the immediate family members, i.e., Parents, Siblings, Maternal and Paternal Grandparents against all medical conditions treatable by stem cells.
- LifeCell’s Community stem cell banking helps the families in finding a healthy matching donor within the community.
- Large donor inventories lead to better chances of finding a close match12. LifeCell has an inventory of >60000 qualified cord blood units that offer a higher chance ( >97%) of finding suitable donor samples within the registry 13.
- It offers unlimited retrieval of cord blood samples that one may require for a stem cell transplant.
- It provides financial assistance of up to 20 lakhs toward the transplant treatment costs.
Therefore, it is extremely important to choose the right umbilical cord blood bank. Since it can be done only once - during the delivery of your baby - ensure you make a well-informed choice.
The umbilical cord blood contains precious stem cells with immense life-saving potential. While earlier they were discarded as medical waste, they are now proving to be a reliable source of health assurance for the baby and the entire family.
Cord blood stem cells now perform better in transplant treatments compared to even matched sibling donor6. The sample collection process is also less painful since cord blood is collected after the umbilical cord is clamped and cut after delivery. Thus, the baby or the mother experience no pain. And when you opt for LifeCell’s community banking program, you get to reap its benefits not only for your baby but also the entire family.