Cord Blood Donation- Your Baby’s Cord Blood Can Save Lives

Cord Blood Donation- Your Baby’s Cord Blood Can Save Lives

Umbilical cord blood contains blood-forming cells that can be used to treat life-threatening diseases and conditions. Expectant parents who do not want to store their baby’s cord blood for private use can donate it to a cord blood bank. Donated cord blood is obtainable for public use and research, and has proven to save many lives.

In 2006, Shelia Gannon was close to the end of a losing battle against acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a form of cancer that causes abnormal blood formation and a shortage of red and normal white blood cells and platelets. After chemotherapy, her cancer went into remission. A bone marrow transplant would have cured her but there was no match from her family members or the six million people on the marrow donor registry. Her doctors suggested the possibility of a cord blood stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, when she arrived at a Minnesota clinic for the procedure, her cancer had returned and she was no longer able to have the transplant. In Denver, she underwent chemotherapy again. Her doctor at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center decided to test a new double cord blood transplant on her. The procedure involved transplanting blood from 2 cords, so that one of them could save her life. On January 3, 2006, Sheila Gannon was given cord blood from one male and one female baby. She recovered slowly and her body developed a new immune system. As at March 12, 2007, Sheila has been in remission for a year. The donated cord blood has given her a second chance at life.

David Kawika Schutte is further proof of the life saving possible of cord blood stem cells. Both he and his twin brother, Christopher Ikaika Schutte were diagnosed with Neutropenia. This is a scarce blood disease where the body does not produce white blood cells at all. Those that have this disease rarely live beyond 2-3 years old. While the twins were given daily shots to raise their immune systems, David Kawika developed leukemia. Given his nearly non-existent immune system, chemotherapy was not an option as it would have killed him. A bone marrow transplant would have cured him but there was no matching donor. When a cord match was ultimately found for him, he underwent a cord blood stem cell transplant for leukemia. Following the treatment, David’s body produced a new blood supply complete with white cells, hence a new immune system. David’s recovery has given hope to his twin brother, Christopher who is nevertheless waiting for a bone marrow or cord blood match.

It is your personal choice whether to store your baby’s cord blood for private use or donate it for public use. There is a need for current cord blood donation especially from different racial and ethnic groups. The fact remains that patients from these groups have lower chances of finding equaled donors than White patients.

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