Are umbilical cord blood stem cells routinely
used? YES, CORD BLOOD SAVES LIVES
Most commonly, cord blood stem cells are being used
to repair diseased or depleted bone marrow resulting
from disorders affecting the blood or immune system
such as leukemia and lymphoma. In addition, these
stem cells have been used following radiation or chemotherapy
in cancer treatment to reconstitute the damaged bone
To date, Cells for Life Cord Blood Bank has released
six samples for medical treatment at the Hospital
for Sick Children in Toronto, all with successful
stem cell engraftment. In five cases children have
used their sibling’s samples to treat blood
diseases. In one case a four year old boy had his
own cord blood infused into him to repair bone marrow
damage caused by extensive chemo and radiation therapies
used to treat a type of brain tumor (medullablastoma).
The parents and transplant physicians were relieved
that they had the foresight to store the cord blood
for their family’s use. It is important to note
that young children with leukemia cannot use their
own cord blood to treat themselves, as the disease
may have already been present at birth. In these cases,
a cord blood sample from a family member or public
bank is required.
The chance of a family needing the sample is low
and estimates vary. “Statistics at our cord
blood bank are 1:6000 based on our transplants versus
stored cord blood units” says Dr. Virro, Medical
Director at Cells for Life. These odds will change
as treatments are developed.
In comparison to stem cells derived from bone marrow,
the stem cell count from umbilical cord blood samples
is significantly lower and sometimes not high enough
to treat an adult patient. This can now be overcome
by using double unit transplants, i.e. two cord blood
units instead of one. Although research is still on-going,
the preliminary data presented is very encouraging.
In fact, in North-America during 2012, more cord blood
units were used for adults then for children .
Should I save my baby’s cord blood
stem cells? YES, TOO PRECIOUS TO WASTE
For over 25 years, cord blood stem cells have been
used to treat over 80 different diseases. Since the
late 80’s, there have been over 30,000 cord
blood transplants conducted worldwide and the future
potential of cord blood is still unknown.
Research and clinical trials will continue to seek
new ways to treat old diseases. Expectant parents
should research the facts and make their own choice.
Public or Private Storage? THE CHOICE IS
Choosing to store privately with
a family bank is a personal choice. Parents say it
provides peace of mind knowing cord blood stem cells
are readily available for use within their family.
Others base their decision on family medical history
or ethnic diversity.
Choosing to donate your baby’s
cord blood; there are two factors to consider: