Umbilical Cord Blood- Collect
and Protect your Baby's Stem Cells at Birth
A new baby can save a life within moments of being born.
• The blood left in the umbilical cord can be easily
collected immediately after the baby’s umbilical
cord is cut.
• This blood has a very high concentration of stem
cells which are routinely used to treat over 70 different
PARENTS HAVE CHOICES - DONATE or FAMILY STORAGE:
Parents may choose to store their child’s cord blood
for their own family to use in the future should the need
arise. These can be used to treat the child, siblings
and other family members. Cells for Life is an example
of an accredited cord blood bank that offers this service
Alternatively, parents may choose to donate their child’s
cord blood to a public bank or research program. Public
banks store about 20 percent of donated cord blood for
medical use; the remaining 80 percent of the samples are
dedicated to research projects. There is one government-funded
bank available to Quebec, and parents living in the Greater
Toronto Area have access to Victoria Angel Registry of
Hope, a bank primarily funded by Cells for Life. Canada
will have another government funded public bank within
the next few years.
CORD BLOOD BANKING IS EASY: Parents
register and receive a collection kit which is taken to
the delivery room. “The collection procedure takes
less than five minutes and there is no risk or discomfort
to the mother or baby” states Obstetrician Dr. Michael
Virro, Medical Director of Cells for Life Cord Blood Institute
Inc. The kit is returned back to the laboratory where
the stem cells are processed and stored. Parents pay a
fee to store privately (~$1000 for the first year and
an annual storage fee of ~$125 per year). Those who donate
their sample to research or a public bank do not assume
STORAGE PERIOD: Most family banks offer
storage agreements for 18 years. Parents are “guardians”
of the sample until the child turns 18 years old. At that
time the child can make their own decision to continue
storing their sample. A recent publication in the medical
journal Blood stated the viability and functionality of
a frozen cord blood sample to be 21 – 23.5 years
. Theoretically, the time frame could be much longer but
we will have to wait for future publications before we
make that claim.
USES: Most commonly, cord blood stem
cells are being used to repair diseased or depleted bone
marrow resulting from disorders affecting the blood or
immune system such as leukemia and lymphoma. In addition,
these stem cells have been used following radiation or
chemotherapy in cancer treatment to reconstitute the damaged
In 2001, during a routine prenatal test at 27 weeks Patrizia
Durante was diagnosed with leukemia. Prior to the delivery
of her baby, Patrizia had the foresight to ask doctors
to collect and store her baby’s cord blood. Patrizia
endured bone marrow biopsies, chemotherapy and other treatments.
After a two-month remission, her leukemia returned. Doctors
searched for a matching bone marrow donor but none could
be found. Patrizia reminded them about her daughter’s
cord blood that had been stored. Patrizia is now cured
and her 10-year old daughter is a happy, healthy girl.
To date, Cells for Life Cord Blood Bank has released
5 samples for medical treatment at the Hospital for Sick
Children in Toronto, all with successful stem cell engraftment.
In 4 cases children have used their sibling’s samples
to treat blood diseases. In 1 case a four year old boy
had his own cord blood infused into him to repair bone
marrow damage caused by extensive chemo and radiation
therapies used to treat a type of brain tumor (medullablastoma).
The parents and transplant physicians were relieved that
they had the foresight to store the cord blood for their
family’s use. It is important to note that young
children with leukemia cannot use their own cord blood
to treat themselves, as the disease may have already been
present at birth. In these cases, cord blood from a family
member or public bank sample is required.
The chance of a family needing the sample is low and
estimates vary. “Statistics at our cord blood bank
are 1:6000 based on our transplants versus stored cord
blood units” says Dr. Virro, Medical Director at
Cells for Life. These odds will change as treatments are
In comparison to stem cells derived from bone marrow,
the stem cell count from umbilical cord blood samples
is significantly lower and some times not high enough
to treat an adult patient. This can now be overcome by
using double unit transplants, i.e. two cord blood units
instead of one. Although research is still on-going, the
preliminary data presented are very encouraging. In fact,
in North-America during 2010, more cord blood units were
used for adults then for children .
FUTURE USES OF CORD BLOOD STEM CELLS:
In the USA alone, 401 clinical trials are currently listed;
many are actively recruiting participants. To review this
work visit www.clinical trials.gov; search for ‘cord
blood’. We should remain cautious not to over-interpret
anecdotal results until proper studies have been evaluated
and published. Some of these studies include heart disease,
stroke, Parkinson’s and Cerebral palsy.
For more information visit www.cellsforlife.com
and sign up for a free online Webinar.
Broxmeyer H et al. Hematopoietic stem/progenitor
cells, generation of induced pluripotent stem cells and
isolation of endothelial progenitors from 21-23.5 year
cryopreserved cord blood. Blood, 2011;117:4773-7.
Brunstein CG et al Allogeneic hematopoietic
cell transplantation for hematologic malignancy: relative
risks and benefits of double umbilical cord blood. Blood.
2010 Nov 25;116(22):4693-9.
Usage: NMDP http://www.marrow.org/PHYSICIAN/Outcomes_Data/index.html#sources
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