Can Cord Blood Be Used For Grandparents?

Can Cord Blood Be Used For Grandparents?
Expecting parents are amid one of the most exciting times of their lives but also one of the most overwhelming. There’s so much to plan for and so many decisions to make. Not too long ago, many families were unaware of cord blood banking, but thanks to celebrities singing its praises, more parents are considering whether cord blood banking is right for them. You might be one of these expecting parents. You also may have started wondering if cord blood can be used for grandparents, which is a common question when exploring cord blood benefits. There is a possibility that your baby’s cord blood could be used for grandparents, but there are multiple considerations to explore before coming to a conclusion.

Key Benefits of Cord Blood Banking

The benefits of cord blood can be explored more in-depth here, but as an overview, cord blood is a rich source of stem cells, which have the unique ability to develop into various types of cells in the body. This regenerative potential can be utilized in treating a range of health conditions, from blood disorders and immune deficiencies to certain types of cancer. As research continues to advance, the list of treatable conditions is expected to grow, making cord blood banking a potentially life-saving investment.

Cord Blood Uses and Treatments

Cord blood stem cells have been used in over 40,000 (and counting) transplants worldwide and are currently being reviewed for approval for treating over 80 life-threatening diseases. These conditions include leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia, and various metabolic and immune system disorders. Additionally, ongoing research explores the potential of cord blood stem cells in treating conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, and spinal cord injuries. It goes without saying that stem cells’ regenerative properties are opening up exciting frontiers.

HLA: The Key to Cord Blood for Grandparents

Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) are proteins found on the surface of most cells in the human body. They play a crucial role in the immune system's ability to differentiate between self and non-self cells. HLA compatibility is vital in cord blood transplantation, as it can significantly impact the procedure's success and reduce the risk of complications. (This Stanford publication explains HLA regarding kidney transplantation, but the information is relevant for stem cell transplantation as well.) HLA compatibility is determined by comparing the HLA markers of the donor and the recipient. Three major HLA groups - HLA-A, HLA-B, and HLA-DR - are most relevant to transplantation compatibility. Each person has two copies of these HLA markers, one inherited from each parent. A close match between the donor and recipient's HLA markers is crucial for a successful transplant. When it comes to compatibility for cord blood being used for grandparents, the likelihood of HLA compatibility is influenced by several factors:
  1. Genetic inheritance: Since HLA markers are inherited from both parents, grandparents and grandchildren share 25% of their genetic material. This means the chances of HLA compatibility are higher than among unrelated donors but not as high as between siblings or parent-child pairs.
  2. Ethnicity: HLA markers tend to be more similar among individuals from the same ethnic background. Therefore, grandparents and grandchildren of the same ethnic origin are more likely to have HLA compatibility than those from different ethnic backgrounds.
  3. Haplotype sharing: Haplotypes are sets of closely linked genes that tend to be inherited together. When a grandparent and grandchild share a haplotype, the likelihood of HLA compatibility increases. However, it is essential to note that haplotype sharing does not guarantee a perfect HLA match.
  4. Number of HLA mismatches: In general, fewer HLA mismatches between the donor and the recipient result in better transplantation outcomes. A perfect match is considered to have zero mismatches, but even a single mismatch can significantly increase the risk of complications like graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Sometimes, a transplant with few mismatches may still be considered if the benefits outweigh the risks.
It's essential to understand that HLA compatibility is not the only factor determining the success of a cord blood transplant. Other factors, such as the recipient's overall health and the quality of the cord blood unit, also play a crucial role. However, by banking cord blood, grandparents may have a higher chance of finding a compatible donor within their family, potentially improving transplantation outcomes. In conclusion, HLA compatibility is a critical aspect of cord blood transplantation. Understanding the factors that influence compatibility between grandparents and grandchildren can help families make informed decisions about cord blood banking. By preserving cord blood, families can potentially access life-saving treatments for their loved ones, including grandparents, in the face of various health challenges.

Getting Started with Cord Blood Banking

At AlphaCord, we’re passionate about helping families access cord blood banking benefits because we’ve seen so many families benefit from the power of stem cells. We know you may have questions, and our team is available for a conversation at any time. With a free information kit, you can start exploring your stem cell banking options. Download it here to get started!