Cord Blood vs. Bone Marrow
Cord blood is the stem cell-rich blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta immediately after the baby is born. These stem cells are hematopoietic, or blood forming, and are the building blocks of our blood and the foundation of our immune system. They can reproduce into red cells, which carry oxygen throughout our bodies, white cells, which fight off infections, and platelets, which create clots to prevent us from bleeding excessively. Stem cells can also be found in places like bone marrow and fat tissue, but the most easily accessible and versatile cells come from the umbilical cord.
Blood stem cells are most concentrated in the body’s bone marrow. Currently, the most common source of stem cells for a transplant is through bone marrow donation process. Finding a donor whose bone marrow is a match can take many weeks, if successful at all. The best chance for a match, and a willing donor, is through a blood relative. The donation process is a surgical procedure that takes place in a hospital operating room. Needles are used to aspirate liquid marrow from the donor’s pelvic bone. Only on occasion does this require an overnight stay in the hospital. The donor should expect to feel soreness in their lower back for a few days, but be back to a normal routine within a week.