Parental instinct is a powerful thing. Parents have an eye for ear infections and know the something-is-just-not-right signs of an impending cold or flu. For Jamie and her husband, Ben, they knew something was wrong when their daughter, Harlow, started crying more than usual just 2 weeks after she was born. Doctors said it was likely colic and suggested new formulas and different sleeping strategies, but Harlow wasn’t getting better. At 3 months old, her stomach swelled, and she stopped having wet diapers.
Putting a name to the problem
After a trip to the emergency room and several tests, Jamie and Ben got some startling news: a grapefruit-sized, cancerous tumor was blocking Harlow’s kidney. To make matters worse, pathologists couldn’t identify just what type of cancer it was. Finally, a team of pediatric oncologists operating out of Chicago concluded that Harlow’s cancer most resembled a rare type of brain cancer, and should be treated as such.
Unsure of a prognosis for Harlow, doctors did determine chemotherapy was the best protocol for treatment. Although Jaime and Ben feared watching their daughter suffer the painful side effects, seeing her smile was enough to make them know they were not going to give up. Then they asked an important question: could the cord blood stem cells they banked with ViaCord help?
Mom. She’s always there for us. She gives us love, encouragement, confidence and the best cookies in the world. This Mother’s Day, we salute moms everywhere with some interesting and fun facts about this special day and the remarkable women it honors.
How did Mother’s Day start?1 Upset by the devastation of the Civil War, Battle Hymn of the Republic composer Julia Ward Howe made a Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. She asked women to band together to protest the futility of war and the deaths of their sons. While the idea didn’t catch on right away, it laid the groundwork for a presidential order four decades later. President Woodrow Wilson signed the day into national observance in 1914, declaring that it be celebrated annually on the second Sunday in May.
When we think of cord blood, we often think of its potential to be used in medical treatments that are still being developed. And that potential is enormous. But it’s important to remember that cord blood already plays a critical role in treating—and in some cases curing—dozens of serious diseases and disorders.
One of these diseases is beta thalassemia major, also known as Cooley’s anemia. Beta thalassemia major is an inherited blood disorder that occurs when the genes governing the production of hemoglobin—the protein in red blood cells that binds to oxygen and carries it throughout the body—are flawed.
More specifically, hemoglobin contains two proteins, an alpha protein and a beta protein. In people afflicted with beta thalassemia major, the hemoglobin doesn’t contain enough of the beta protein, which means the red blood cells can’t carry sufficient oxygen from the lungs to the body’s cells and tissues.