Have you ever seen those videos or read on the internet when people eat and cook the placenta and the umbilical cord after birth…. Kind of freaky right? Well this isn’t about that, this is about something useful that can be done with the umbilical cord and the placenta; it’s called cord blood registry and storage and it’s a relatively new thing. In essence it’s the storage of the blood kin the umbilical cord and in the placenta after birth, and it can be very useful.
This blood can be donated to the public for people in need of a life saving operation, or it can be stored for your bay’s own future medical needs. Cord blood has been recently shown to contain stem cells; yeah, those things that scientists have used to clone sheep and even grow new hearts. Those same stem cells can be used to treat a wide variety of diseases and genetic conditions.
One thing that needs to be said is that this is very new and not really available to the public yet, but it's defiantly something good to know for the future. This article isn’t really about whether it’s a good thing or not, whether it’s right or wrong; I’ll leave that up to you to decide, this article is purely informative. These are the ins and outs of cord blood registry; here is everything you need to know!
10 Cord Blood Banking and Registry: What is it?
When a baby is born there's a lot of excess blood from the baby, both in the placenta and in the umbilical cord, this blood is then collected, stored, and registered. The purpose of this is to use the blood for future medical purposes as it contains many stem cells which have healing and growth potential, stem cells that can’t be found in the embryonic cells or anywhere else for that matter; this blood has the potential to save a person in a way that nothing else can.
If a person is sick, this stem cell rich blood collected at the time of their birth can be used to heal them in many different ways. Stem cells can be used for many purposes, in extreme cases it has been proven that whole new hearts, lungs, and livers can be grown from stem cells.
So at some point in the future if you ever need some new organs, but there aren’t any donors, you might just be glad that your parents stored some of your cord blood, because it might just be the answer to your problems. You can actually have your baby’s blood frozen and saved for future medical emergencies. Medical technology really has come so far it’s amazing!
9 How is it Done?
Here’s the basic process, once the baby has been born doctors have up to 2 minutes to clamp off the cord before the blood starts to clot and isn't good for anything. The doctor then inserts a needle into the umbilical vein that is still attached to the placenta and proceeds to drain it of as much blood as possible.
Usually about 1.5 ounces of blood is taken, and don’t worry because this doesn’t hurt your baby at all. The blood is then shipped off to the blood bank for testing and storage; it’s stored using cryogenics.
It feels sci-fi, but it's real
Not to fear though, it’s not like the cryogenics Walt Disney used, this is more of a controlled freezing, and it’s meant to keep things alive not keep the dead nice and cold.
8 Why Cord Blood is Better
The blood from the cord contains stem cells which can’t be found anywhere else, stem cells which have the ability to turn into other cells, repair tissue and organs and treat a wide variety of diseases; a normal blood transfusion will not be able to do that.
Stem cells are found in other parts of the body such as in bone marrow, but are often not rich enough in structure and there aren’t enough of these cells to actually be worth harvesting and using. Cord blood contains high amounts of these stem cells which can be harvested.
Cord blood can mean the difference between getting better and staying sick longer
It's possible to transfuse stem cells into the blood from bone marrow, however there's one reason why cord blood is so much better, it’s because it never had a chance to mature and develop the ability to fight diseases and build up immunity. Even though this sounds like a bad thing, it’s actually a good thing because that means that there is a very little chance of someone’s body rejecting the stem cells which is a very big problem.
Finding stem cell matches are hard, but with cord blood the chances of discovering a match are very high because the stem cells from the immature blood usually don’t have the ability to attack a foreign invader, and in a transplant the recipient is seen as the foreign invader. This is one of the reasons why people receiving transplants from cord blood are quickly rising; it’s priceless.
7 Your Own or Someone Else’s?
Ok, so you may think that the best blood to use for a stem cell transfusion would be your own cord blood, which isn’t completely wrong; using your own cord blood does have the advantage of there being a 0% percent chance of rejection since it is your own blood and DNA.
However, in many cases a person needs a stem cell transfusion for something like cancer, a genetic blood disorder, or a genetic immune disorder which means that using your own blood won’t do any good because that blood will have the same genetic disorders that you have, you would just be putting the disease right back into your body.
The best part is you can use someone else's cord blood
Putting stem cells with the genetic code for cancer inside of somebody who is recovering from cancer probably isn’t the best idea.
So the short of it is that it’s probably better to use someone else’s blood and stem cells, someone who didn’t have the disease you have. To make a healthy new immune or blood system it’s crucial to use cord blood that doesn’t have the genetic markers of immune and blood diseases.
6 Tested On Animals
One very controversial thing about cord blood registry and transfusion is that it of course had to be and still is tested on animals. Now, some people may say that it's necessary to test it on animals so in case anything does go wrong, it won’t happen to some unsuspecting human, and anyway it’s just a rat right?
On the other hand, many people say that it's unethical to do scientific tests on animals that have no say or control over what is happening to them. It may just be a rat, but it should still have control over its own life. There have been some positive results when using rats for tests, rats with Lou Gehrig’s disease, strokes, or spinal cord injuries are shown to have greatly improved motor functions and overall bodily function.
Most medical improvements are tested on animals first
This is truly incredible as some of these diseases or injuries were thought to be incurable or un-treatable, yet stem cells from cord blood can help. Somewhere along the line it’s still wrong to be giving mice and rats Lou Gehrig’s disease just to see if the treatment will work. We can only imagine that many of the animals tested on don’t see positive results, and that they suffer unnecessary.
Another thing that parents and people in general should know is that because cord blood transfusions are a recent discovery, they're still somewhat a future goal to achieve, this hasn't become common practice yet.
As mentioned before, it has really only been tested on animals and is not readily available for adults. There are clinical trials underway, but the progress is very slow; years of testing on people is required before it gets approved.
It's not readily available to everyone...yet
So if you’re banking on the ability to have a core blood stem cell transfusions in the future, just be sure you know that this medical technology is not at all ready to use. There are still a lot of questions and mysteries concerning this research which need to be answered before this can be used for the general population.
4 What Choice to Make
Next, what parents should know is that cord blood registry and storage can be used for other people right now. What I mean by this is that you can choose to store your child’s cord blood for future use, the problem with this is that most of the therapies and treatments that you’re saving the blood for are still in early stages of testing and there’s no knowing for sure whether or not the blood will actually ever be used.
The other option is donate the blood for blood transfusions which are needed as we speak; millions of people every day need blood transfusion, both to treat diseases and also due to blood loss from things like car accidents. The cord blood from your baby, if donated to a bank, can and will be used to save someone’s life in the very near future.
You don't have to do this, but you might want to
Seeing as one of these options will save someone’s life and the other one will most likely be useless as the blood will probably never be used. Experts say the blood has more value when stored in a public blood bank for the 70% of people that can’t find a transfusion match.
3 Diseases and Conditions that Can Be Treated
Cord blood and the stem cells present within have the amazing ability to heal more than 70 different diseases and conditions. Many of the diseases that this stem cell therapy could cure are diseases that were up until now thought to be untreatable, it’s absolutely amazing.
These include many different types of cancer, blood disorders, immune disorders, Hodgkin’s disease, and sickle cell anemia. There are also ongoing clinical trials which have shown that the stem cells from cord blood can also treat conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, and type 1 diabetes.
There's a brighter future ahead with cord blood
Yes, that's right, type 1 diabetes, a disease that was otherwise thought as incurable could actually be cured and wiped off of the face of the earth.
2 How Much is There?
So, if this blood is so important than a good question to ask would be how much of it is there for use. The answer is that there are roughly 1 million units of cord blood stored in the USA alone, 90% of which is stored in private family blood banks and the other 10% of which is donated to public blood banks for use.
This is in addition to the 185,000 units of blood donated annually. This is something that’s taking off pretty quickly as over 5% of parents now have their children’s blood stored.
Only available in certain countries
This practice is more common in North America, Europe, and other more developed countries because it's a very expensive thing to do; storing cord blood costs quite a bit of money.
1 What Are the Chances I’ll Need It?
Cord blood is very valuable, and the technology being used to make it happen even more so. This all may sound like medical experimenting and time well wasted, however studies show that many people need stem cell transplants.
To put a number to this, it's estimated that one out of every 200 people will need a stem cell transplant for something or other by the time they are 70. Just think of your children, family and friends.
It's better to have the blood, than to not have the blood
Chances are that one of those people, maybe even yourself, will need a stem cell transplant one day, and that’s the day you will be glad that there’s a public cord blood registry ready to save a life.