Pregnancy Articles

Cord Blood: You Are Your Own Best Donor

By Larry Mitchell

When it comes to finding a donor for any medical issue, there are a number of problems and concerns. In most instances, individuals cannot find a proper 

match for their specific needs, leaving them unable to have a transplant. This is especially true with adoptive children who may not have biological siblings or other family members to check for matches, children without siblings or family members, and individuals of certain races or ethnicities that may not have access to other individuals of their race or ethnicity in their area. Even after a match is found, it is not guaranteed that the transplant will be a success, since the human body is conditioned to repel anything it deems “foreign,” even if the item will potentially save your life. Instead of having to worry about these concerns, imagine serving as your own donor, ensuring a perfect match every time and greatly diminishing the worry about rejection. For these many reasons, you may wish to bank cord blood.

According to the informative Web site Should You Bank Cord Blood, cord blood is the blood that is found within the umbilical cord at birth. The umbilical cord serves as a lifeline between mother and child, allowing nutrients to pass to the child in the womb. Umbilical cord blood is rich in stem cells, which have the potential to treat and cure a host of diseases, from cancer to Parkinson’s. The unique healing aspects of stem cells revolve around the fact that these cells have yet to be given a specific role to play in the human body. These indeterminate cells have the ability to become any type of cell that the body decides it needs, whether it will become a blood cell, bone cell, muscle cell, or any other cell imaginable, stem cells can transform into any cell most needed.

The reason why stem cells from cord blood work so well in transplants is because they take on the responsibility of the non-working cells they attempt to replace. For instance, in people suffering from leukemia, their body is no longer producing the appropriate number of white blood cells in their bone marrow. Before cord blood, leukemia patients must wait to find a bone marrow match and then undergo and transplant that may or may not work. Instead, the match is guaranteed, since the blood comes directly from your body, and the stem cells quickly translate into cells that will become properly working bone marrow to ensure production of white blood cells to fight the disease. Since stem cells can become any type of cells the body needs most, cord blood is used to treat and potentially cure numerous diseases and disorders, including sickle cell anemia and many forms of cancer, especially those affecting infants and children.

Since no donor is required, you do not have to suffer through the waiting period of seeing if a matching cord blood donor will be found. Treatment can begin immediately, allowing you a better chance for a complete recovery since the disease or disorder will not have taken a great hold on your body. Additionally, you can serve as a cord blood donor to your sick sibling using cord blood that is far more effective than anything else you can give to a brother or sister. Many parents choose to bank cord blood in order to treat another child who is experiencing problems—especially children battling childhood cancer. Since siblings are the best chance for a proper match for any type of transplant, cord blood works in many instances to save the life of an ill brother or sister.

Larry Mitchell is a San Francisco based author.

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