What is Cord Blood?
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.
Why is it so valuable?
Stem cells from your child's cord blood could be used as part of a therapy associated with many cancers, blood disorders, and chemotherapy. An infusion or transplant of stem cells back into the body can "boost" the immune system and repopulate new blood cells. These cells are genetically specific to your family. Should a transplant be necessary, would provide a perfect match for your child. Without these genetically specific cells, you must go through the long, frustrating, and possibly unsuccessful process of finding a match in the public banking system or a suitable bone marrow donor. See Diseases Treated
As with an organ transplant, there is always the possibility of “rejection”. The body may identify the infusion as a foreign object and a threat. If so, an inflammatory response may occur making the transplant a failure. Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) markers are genetically inherited and determine if stem cells can be successfully infused to another. If an insufficient number of HLA markers are matched between donor and recipient, the infusion will fail to generate mature cells or “engraft”. However, similar genetics mean a better chance of a match. In fact, depending on the procedure, siblings have a 25-75% chance of being a match. Thus, the sample could be used for a brother or sister as well as the child himself.