At ViaCord we already know the amazing power of cord blood. And with an estimated one million cord blood units stored1, its clear parents around the world are catching on too.
If you’re reading this post, you’re probably considering cord blood banking for your family. To help with your decision making, we’ve created a series of easy to read (and share) infographics that shed light on the most commonly asked questions and break it all down into simple bites of information.
Take a look below, and find out for yourself why cord blood is so awesome.
An increasing number of families are taking time to learn about cord blood this month. Why? July is Cord Blood Awareness Month, of course! Also, the fact is, cord blood stem cells are doing amazing things today. Used in the treatment of a number of serious diseases, these cells have the ability to regenerate into additional stem cells or differentiate into specialized cells, such as nerve or blood cells. This remarkable ability makes them invaluable in medical treatments.
Let’s take a closer look at what Cord Blood Awareness Month is all about!
Families choose to bank cord blood for various reasons – from family history of disease to peace of mind. We’ve put together our Top 3 list to help you with this important decision.
- The healing power of cord blood stem cells today. Cord blood stems cells are currently used in the treatment of nearly 80-diseases, including a wide range of cancers, blood disorders, and genetic diseases. Since the first cord blood transplant performed for a child with Fanconi’s anemia in 1988, over 30,000 cord blood transplants have been performed world-wide 4. Nearly half of all pediatric transplants worldwide now involve cord blood stem cells.3 Continue reading
According to Merriam-Webster the definition of awareness is “having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge.” That’s precisely the goal of this month, July – Cord Blood Awareness month – to help families gain knowledge about the value of cord blood stem cells and realize how saving these precious cells could potentially benefit a family.
You may think learning about cord blood requires a science background or is a time consuming process. It’s quite the contrary, however. When it comes to learning about cord blood, there are really two important things to know: Continue reading
Everyday expecting families reach out to ViaCord to talk cord blood. In our conversations that cover everything from the value of storing cord blood stem cells to how cord blood is collected at the hospital and then processed in our laboratory, one common question we hear is, “How long does cord blood last? Does it ever expire?” Families want to know that when they choose to bank their baby’s cord blood, if it’s ever needed – even years down the road – that their frozen cord blood will offer a viable treatment option.
The quick answer: to date, there is no evidence that it will ever expire. 1
The most comprehensive research on this topic comes from Dr. Hal Broxmeyer, a pioneering cord blood scientist and renowned microbiologist and immunologist, who has studied cord blood for more than two decades. More specifically, in 2003 his team published a pivotal study that showed cord blood units were still viable 15 years Continue reading
Navigate the cord blood stem cell world with this glossary of terms
Understanding all the words that are a part of the cord blood stem cell world can be challenging. Sometimes, it can feel like you need a medical dictionary with you when trying to read an article or have a conversation on the topic. While we normally try to define terms within our blogs, we’re creating a one-stop-blog for most of your cord blood stem cell terminology needs. We hope you find it helpful as you explore other places for information on these valuable stem cells.
Breaking down the most common terms
Cord blood: Umbilical cord blood, or cord blood, is the blood remaining in the umbilical cord after a baby is born. Cord blood contains a variety of cells including red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, platelets and is also rich in hematopoietic stem cells. Read more about cord blood here >>
For treatments that use cord blood stem cells, a key predictor of success is the number of stem cells that are available for transplant or infusion. That’s why ViaCord developed a state-of-the-art collection system to preserve the most cells possible – and why expectant parents should ask about and understand the collection process as they decide which cord blood company to bank with. One important factor to consider is the type of anticoagulant used in the cord blood collection.
After your child is born the umbilical cord blood that is left over will be drained into a collection bag. If cord blood alone were placed in the bag, the blood would quickly coagulate or clot, leaving most of its cells unusable. To prevent this, collection bags are pre-filled with an anticoagulant. This minimizes clotting while the blood is transported to the processing lab. But not all anticoagulants are created equal.
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.
Before you know it 40 weeks of waiting, 280 days of planning, and the big moment will finally come. You’ll find yourself at the hospital ready to deliver your baby!
So whether you’ll have lots of time to settle in and tuck your overnight bag in the corner with your ViaCord collection kit resting nearby, or you’re rushing in with that overnight bag flung over one arm and your collection kit under the other –we want to ensure that the process of collecting your baby’s cord blood goes as smoothly as possible.
Public cord blood banks: evaluating the benefits and limitations
Today, public banks are an important resource for those patients who do not have access to a source of matched family stem cells. And many women want to donate their baby’s cord blood stem cells to a public bank to help provide life-saving treatments to people in need. It is a worthy cause so it’s important for pregnant women and their families to be fully informed about public cord blood donations before making a decision.
When a medical need for stem cells presents itself, a patient’s doctor will first look to family members to find a match. They may also access the National Marrow Donor Program’s (NMDP) Be The Match ® registry – an inventory of stem cell sources potentially available to be used in transplant. Even with this resource every year 10,000 people do not find an immediate match and must wait for a match in order to receive a stem cell transplant. 1