Stem cells are an integral part of modern medical treatments because of their ability to encourage tissue regeneration. Stem cells come from peripheral blood and bone marrow, but they can also be found in cord blood. Parents can choose to save cord blood for their own family or have it anonymously donated to help others. Many parents, however, don’t realize this and so when they’re asked what they want to do, they don’t know. That’s why Cord Blood Awareness Month is so important.
What Are the Odds of a Child Needing Cord Blood?
The chances of a child using their own cord blood for some reason later on in life are rather small. It’s a 1 in 5000 chance, which is halved when donor cord blood is also considered. It is believed that up to 33% of people could benefit from the effects of regenerative medicine, so even if the cord blood isn’t needed personally, it can still help someone else.
If a child is born with a genetic disorder, the cord blood contains the genetic coding that caused the issues faced in the first place and is suitable for research, but not for therapies. The cord blood from a child without a genetic disorder, however, can be used to treat certain diseases. The amount of stem cells from just 1 birth is enough to treat children or young adults.
Private cord blood banks may charge up to $2,000 to collect at the time of delivery and charge an annual maintenance fee afterward, but donated cord blood collected by a public bank is free. The cord blood is going to go to waste anyway, so why not donate it? That’s the question asked every July during Cord Blood Awareness Month.
It Is Still a Developing Science
Although the applications for cord blood are still being discovered, there have already been some huge successes. Almost two-thirds of the successful cord blood transplants that occur in the US are used to treat leukemia. Another 28% are used to treat genetic disorders. Unfortunately it is a practice that hasn’t spread around the world, however, as 2 out of 3 cord blood transplants currently occur in the United States.
About 30,000 cord blood transplants have happened so far. Under cryopreservation, it is believed that cord blood could last up to 20 years. There are more than 600,000 units that have been stored for matching and use right now. Modern medicine can provide plenty of miracles. Cord Blood Awareness Month helps everyone to take note of the miracles this one treatment provides now and could provide in the future.