blood typesWhen you are pregnant, especially for the first time, you have to make many decisions: What to eat? Where to give birth? What name should you give to your child? Which doctor should you choose?

But did anyone ask you:

Do you plan to freeze the umbilical cord blood of your child?

During pregnancy, the umbilical cord is a life-line of the fetus, tying it to the placenta through an almost two-meter-long vein that provides nutrients and oxygen.

Because the blood of the mother and the blood of the fetus do not mix, the blood found in the placenta and umbilical cord at birth mainly belongs to the fetus.

The umbilical cord blood contains a source of stem cells. It gives life to all tissues of the body – nerve, bone, muscle, joint and blood cells.

Some doctors, scientists, and parents decide to preserve umbilical cord blood. They collect it from the child’s umbilical cord, freeze it and store it for the future.

Supporters of umbilical cord blood banking are convinced that fetal cells, instead of being a medical waste, are biological gold.

Taking umbilical cord blood is a simple, short-lasting procedure that does not cause any threat to either the newborn or the mother. Until recently, the placenta and umbilical cord were disposed of right after delivery. Currently, cord blood can be stored for several dozen years.

What does the research say about umbilical cord blood?

In the 1980s, umbilical cord blood attracted the attention of researchers who suspected that often discarded tissues may be a valuable source of stem cell shifting.

These cells are similar to specialized stem cells found in the bone marrow that can produce new blood cells. Such stem cells are also found in adult blood, but not so abundantly.

In 1988, 5-year-old Matthew, with a rare type of anemia, received umbilical cord blood from his new-born sister who did not get sick. This transfer, called umbilical cord blood transplantation, worked and the boy soon came out of the disease.

At that time, the scientists did not know much about the properties of cells found in umbilical cord blood.

Hematopoietic stem cells are particularly interesting. In some cases, transplantation of these cells can heal a person with a serious illness.

A total of 35,000 umbilical cord blood transplants have been performed worldwide.

This number includes those treated for leukemia, various types of cancer, blood diseases and immunological diseases. The use of umbilical cord cells can extend well beyond the disorders to which cells are currently used.

Some scientists suspect that umbilical cord blood contains other cells that can have a healing effect.

Specialized immune cells can, for example, improve the function of the brain. They can help with: cerebral palsy, autism, diabetes and other diseases.

After the umbilical blood injections, on average 63 children with cerebral palsy, improved their motor skills.

Another clinical study attempted to check whether umbilical cord blood transplants improve symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorders should end in the summer of 2018, according to pediatric researcher and clinician Joanne Kurtzberg of Duke University who helped establish the nonprofit umbilical cord bank nonprofit in North Carolina.

What is so important in umbilical cord blood?

Compliance with the donor.

Each transplant ends with a patient taking toxic drugs that suppress the system so that they do not reject the transplant.

Why?

Because it is very difficult to choose a donor with the same kind of blood and systems.

The umbilical cord blood comes from the fetus of a person who can safely use it in the future.

Today, to find the ideal dose for a blood transplant or transfusion, a lot of research and luck is needed.

Because we have to take into account:

  •  the same blood type: A, B, AB, 0.
  • The same blood system.

There are over 30 systems. The most incompatible ones are: Rhesus, Lewis, and AB0

These systems need to be carefully researched and taken into account: whether the person is a secretor or non-secretor.

Therefore, after transplants, there are so many rejections, and in addition, people with a transplanted organ must take medications that inhibit transplant rejection for the rest of their lives.

Why?

Because the transplanted organ was taken from a person who is incompatible with the blood group or blood system or is a secretor or non-secretor.

Therefore, storing your own umbilical cord blood may help you to heal an incurable disease in the future.

Kasia BrzozaKasia Brzoza

Form by (e)NeTes

Photo: By ktsimage