Imagine having a medical resource at your fingertips that could potentially help fight cancer, halt Parkinson’s disease, and neutralize juvenile diabetes.
Recent advances with a particular group of stem cells, called mesenchymal stem cells or MSCs, suggest they could be this resource within our lifetimes, potentially adding to other stem cell treatments already in use. This news is particularly exciting for expectant parents, because MSCs are abundant in umbilical cord tissue—the tissue that makes up the umbilical cord itself—and can be extracted and stored long-term.
Cord blood banking stores stem cells found in the umbilical cord blood, which is rich in hemapatopoietic stem cells (HSCs). These cells, responsible for producing blood and immune cells are immensely valuable—they’re used today in the treatment of dozens of diseases and are also being explored as a potential treatment for many others, including type 1 diabetes and cerebral palsy. HSCs are different from MSCs, however, so cord tissue stem cell banking goes a step further by capturing MSCs from the umbilical cord tissue, and cryogenically freezing them in case they are ever needed.
The ViaCord Facebook® page has become a wonderful place for ViaCord families to let their voices be heard. Your inspirational stories are moving and help raise awareness about the importance of cord blood stem cells. It’s this kind of insight that can help other families make an informed decision about cord blood banking. So when we asked our Facebook friends to tell us “Why did you bank your baby’s cord blood?” we knew we would get a response. But what we received was overwhelming.
Why bank? We asked, you answered!
We were amazed and gratified by how many families gave us a personal look into their reasons for banking their baby’s cord blood. Some parents told us that they wanted peace of mind, and others felt their family history influenced their decisions to bank. We were moved by your stories and couldn’t miss the opportunity to share some of your responses:
Stem cells are the building blocks of life. So it’s no surprise that a major source of these cells is in the life-giving connection between mother and baby—the umbilical cord. When parents choose to bank their baby’s cord blood, the physician collects the blood remaining in the umbilical cord after birth and discards the umbilical cord tissue. New research is showing, however, that valuable stem cells are not only found in cord blood; they’re also found in the umbilical cord tissue.
Stem cell overview: hematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells
Cord blood contains a variety of stem cells, including hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). These newborn stem cells can do an array of things, including create and repair the blood and immune systems. Hematopoietic stem cells can be the unsung heroes in transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases. HSCs and other stem cells found in cord blood are also being explored as a treatment option in some regenerative therapies, including treatment for Type I diabetes and cerebral palsy.
Amid the hustle, bustle and celebration of your baby’s birth, your doctor collects the cord blood and packs the unit to send to ViaCord. But what happens next? We asked Gail Foertsch, Senior Manager at the ViaCord Processing Laboratory (VPL), to give parents an inside look at how we process your child’s cord blood in our state-of-the-art facility. Here’s what she had to say:
“Delivered Safe and Sound
With the help of a private medical courier service specializing in transporting biopharmaceutical materials, collected cord blood units arrive at our AABB-accredited, CLIA-certified, FDA-registered and industry benchmarked facility just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. The first step we take is cross-referencing important information on the cord blood unit, including the mother’s name, ViaCord identification number and time and date of the collection, with our database. This ensures the safety and security of your child’s cord blood right from the start.
We have great news—one of our colleagues had a baby! In addition to gaining a healthy and happy son, Lisa got an interesting perspective on cord blood collection—this time as a ViaCord customer. We asked her to tell us about her firsthand experience with cord blood banking.
Once the decision was made, how did you go about making arrangements?
“I went through the same process as our customers do. Once I was enrolled and completed my forms, I received a confirmation e-mail followed by a voice message that my collection kit would arrive within 2 weeks (it actually arrived in 3 days). Then, as I got closer to my due date, I received a reminder message, so I didn’t forget my collection kit when we left for the hospital.
I also received literature in the mail, and honestly, I was impressed. Everything was clear and comforting for me as a mom. And as a ViaCord employee, it was reassuring to know that our customers experience the same.“
Anything you would change about the process?
February is the month of love, and we see the signs of that everywhere. Heart shapes line supermarket aisles, decorate television ads and fill candy boxes throughout the month. So it’s no surprise that the American Heart Association has named February the American Heart Month. Because heart disease is both prevalent and deadly in the United States, it’s important to do what you can to stay healthy.
Make the right choices to protect your heart
Your diet can have an impact on your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers some tips to consider when building a heart-healthy meal:1
It’s National Donor Day!
When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of chocolates, flowers and teddy bears holding pillows that say “I love you.” But February 14th marks another special day and a new way to spread the love. National Donor Day focuses on encouraging people to donate bone marrow, organs, platelets and blood—all of which are needed to help tens of thousands of people in the United States. And what could be more loving than making a potentially life-saving donation, especially when the need for donors of all kinds is so great. Did you know:
- Today, over 105,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant 1
- Approximately 35,000 children and adults in our country have life-threatening blood diseases that could be treated by a marrow/blood stem cell or cord blood transplant. 2
- Every two seconds someone in America needs blood, more than 39,000 units each day. 3
For many expectant moms following the development of your baby growing inside of you is a must. How could it not be when you stop to think about what really occurs during the nine months of pregnancy – a couple of cells miraculously transform into a tiny human being. It’s simply amazing. As a new mom, every time I look at my baby boy I’m still amazed and remember how the changes during those nine months were grand and rapid for both him and me!
One of the tools I used to feed my personal obsession with tracking our progress was the Pregnancy CompanionTM iPhone application. Created by two board certified obstetricians, who together have over 25 years of experience and more than 8,000 deliveries, this app combines useful information, medical knowledge and tracking tools to help guide women through their pregnancies.
In addition to providing the week by week playbook about the incredible evolution of mom and baby, it includes many other features to meet your pregnancy needs…
ViaCord has a long history of collecting and preserving babies’ stem cells. We’re proud to provide families with the opportunity to save the precious stem cells found in umbilical cord blood. The successful treatment of a number of conditions using cord blood stem cells proves they can be a valuable medical resource for families. Over the years ViaCord has seen many families in need of a stem cell treatment turn to the cord blood stem cells they’ve banked with us, especially where there may otherwise be limited treatment options.
Recently ViaCord released its 200th cord blood unit to be used for a potentially life-changing treatment.
Marking this newest milestone – 200 cord blood units released, 200 families given hope -is cause for acknowledgement and also provides an opportunity to reflect on the past and think about the future potential of cord blood stem cells.
2011 is here; can you believe it? Many positive things happened for cord blood research, ViaCord families and ViaCord in 2010. Let’s take a moment to look back at some of the highlights.
Important cord blood stem cell research paves the way for treatment possibilities
Here is just some of what went on this year:
Progress continued in trials using cord blood stem cells in regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicine applications require a patient to use his or her own cord blood stem cells in treatment. As a result a number of ViaCord families have been able to participate in these trials.