How are patients matched to donated cord blood for use in treatments?
All blood is made up of 6 specific protein markers called human leukocyte antigens, or HLAs, that are used as identifiers, all unique to each individual person. HLA markers of the patient and the donor are compared for compatibility prior to a cord blood transplant. The HLA markers are what the body’s immune system uses to identify the body’s cells or identify foreign bodies in the blood. If the body does not recognize the cells, the immune system kicks into gear to eliminate the foreign material.
Matching the HLA markers of the patient and donor are crucial to ensure a successful transplant and help reduce the risk that the body will recognize the new cells as a threat and attack them following a transplant (called Graft vs. Host Disease.)