Did you know that newborn babies have the power to save and impact lives with just the blood that comes from their umbilical cords?
That is because the cord blood that remains from the placenta and the tissue that make up the umbilical cord is actually filled with lifesaving stem cells that have been scientifically proven to help treat many malicious diseases. There are actually two different types of stem cells that can be collected: cord blood stem cells and cord tissue stem cells.
The amazing thing about stem cells is their ability to help heal and treat diseases that humans otherwise have had a hard time dealing with. Stem cells can help people with leukemia, inherited immune disorders, and even problems with cardiovascular muscle tissue. Some stem cells act as the repairmen of our bodies with their ability to consistently reproduce without limit, for the most part. Other stem cells are activated under certain conditions to repair specific organs. Scientists still have a long way to go fully understanding how regenerative therapy can work, but they hope to be able to continue to make advances through stem cell research.
How does cord blood banking work?
The blood from a newborn’s umbilical cord is filled with all of the same components of whole blood but is extremely rich in stem cells that can help treat people who have diseases of the blood and cardiovascular problems. Essentially, cord blood banking works the same way as a normal blood donation, in terms of collection. A nurse will stick the umbilical cord (after it has been removed) with a needle that is connected to a collection bag. The blood will then flow into the collection bag and usually amount to somewhere around 70-80 mL of cord blood.
While this might not seem like a ton of blood in comparison to a normal adult’s 500 mL (whole) blood donation, keep in mind that the cord blood donation is rich in stem cells. After the blood has been collected, it is then frozen and kept in storage at a cord blood bank awaiting its future use.
Why the controversy surrounding stem cells?
Why do people have a problem with something that can be so useful? There is no harm in collecting stem cells for either baby or mom, there is a ton of scientific research that backs the positive medical claims behind its uses, and there are still many more illnesses that cord blood could help treat with even further research. So why are there people who are against it?
The medical community and public are usually in agreement that cord blood banking (where the blood is available for general public use) is acceptable and beneficial. Controversy arises when the subject lands on taking stem cells from embryos, which isn’t how cord blood banking is done. Many people feel that it is ethically wrong to destroy an embryo in order to harvest the stem cells from them. That is a big reason why you hear misunderstandings about the relationship between cord blood and stem cells. Generally, people are confused about how cord blood is taken until they look into it.
With all this being said, have any of you ever donated your baby’s cord blood? What do you think about the practice of cord blood banking?