January 30, 2015

Stem cells transplants from umbilical cord blood have increased in medical treatments in recent years. When compared to the other common source of stem cells, bone marrow, it is clear to see why cord blood transplants are on the rise.

Cord blood is easy to collect and is both painless and risk free to mother and baby. It is collected in the few minutes following birth from the blood left over in the umbilical cord and placenta. It is completely painless because it is taken after delivery and is so non-intrusive for both mother and child, they may not even notice it is happening. Bone marrow transplants, on the other hand, are a sometimes painful and quite involved ordeal. The donor must be put under general anesthesia in a surgical setting and may experience lasting side effects from the procedure.

Since cord blood is tested when it is received at our banking facility, it can be ready to go as soon as you need it, sometimes even within 24 hours in emergency situations. That is not the case for bone marrow transplants, which can take weeks or months to find a willing donor, then more time for testing for infectious diseases and compatibility, and then preparation for the procedure and the processing required before donation.

Cord blood is much easier to match to a recipient. A person’s unique blood HLA typing is what determines who is a compatible match or not. With bone marrow transplants, all 6 HLA markers must be an identical match between donor and recipient. Because of these strict requirements, sometimes it is difficult to find a matching donor. The requirements for cord blood, however, are not as stringent. A patient can successfully receive umbilical cord blood stem cells from someone who is only a partial HLA match, which makes it easier for a patient to be matched to a donor.

Cord blood is also associated with fewer post-transplant complications, including Graft vs. Host Disease and viral illnesses common in other types of stem cell transplants. Even in the rare cases of GVHD occurring after a cord blood transplant, it has proven to be less severe and much easier to treat than cases occurring following a bone marrow transplant.

Also, once cord blood stem cells have been collected and stored, they have an indefinite shelf life. In fact, it has been proven viable for transplant after more than 20 years of cold storage and researchers have found no reason why it wouldn’t be viable for years and years to come when properly stored. Bone marrow transplants do not allow for this time availability. If fact, once bone marrow stem cells have been collected they must be used in a very short amount of time, usually within a few hours, before they are considered no longer functional.

For more information on cord blood banking with CariCord, visit our homepage or feel free to call and speak with one of our helpful customer service representatives.

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