People rarely notice new medical treatments especially when it isn’t an immediate concern. This is perhaps the reason why a lot of people haven’t given much thought about cord blood banking even if it has been around for decades now. I myself have heard about this procedure before but I didn’t give it much attention because I thought it would cost a lot of money. My perspective changed when I attended the event Celebrating World Cord Blood Day. I learned that the procedure has life saving benefits that you could be throwing away by not learning about cord blood. Here are some interesting facts that I have learned during the event.
November 15, 2017 is the first World Cord Blood Day
This is a day to celebrate life and the value of choices we make now to take care of our family’s future. But first, what is cord blood and why do we have to celebrate a World Cord Blood Day?
Cord blood is a newfound and non-controversial source of stem cells that can be used to save lives from dreaded diseases. In 1988 Dr. Eliane Gluckman performed a cord blood stem cell transplant that saved a young boy who had Fanconi Anemia. Since then over 40,000 cord blood stem cell procedures have been performed saving the lives of thousands of other children. Unfortunately, a lot of people have yet to realize the value of cord blood as it is simply thrown away in 98% of childbirths.
What is the value of Cord Blood? Stem cells are currently at the forefront of revolutionary medicine and you can find the healthiest stem cells to replenish blood and regenerate damaged bone marrow in the cord blood. These stem cells can also help in treating blood cancers and correct genetic defects. Recent developments have shown the use of cord blood in regenerative medicine like treatment for spinal cord injuries and cerebral palsy. Putting your baby’s umbilical cord blood in the bank ensures their access to these stem cells for future cellular therapy.
Top 10 reasons why you should consider banking umbilical cord blood
- 1 in 200 individuals1 may need a hematopoietic stem cell (HSCs) transplant by the age of 70.
- 60% higher chance2 of match versus bone marrow in a family.
- Research showed that patients have a lower chance of complications in transplants when they receive stem cells from a relative3.
- Some of the most common cancers, such as leukaemia and lymphoma, are treatable with stem cell transplant. In the Philippines, leukaemia is one of the top 10 cancers for both men and women; and for men, lymphoma is also in the top 8. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) is the most common type of leukaemia in children, with 79% of childhood ALL occurring between the ages 1-9 years4.
- A guaranteed match for autologous transplants (where the donor and recipient are the same individual).
- A readily available supply of stored hematopoietic stem cells — this is a better option than having to do a national or international search which is costly and time-consuming given an already time critical situation.
- Lower risk of Graft vs. Host Disease (GvHD) for allogeneic transplants, a situation where the transplanted tissue attacks the patient’s own tissue.
- Umbilical cord blood stem cells are younger, have a higher rate of engraftment and are more tolerant to tissue mismatches, compared to other types of stem cells, e.g. bone marrow.
- Ease of collection, which is pain-free and risk-free to both mother and child.
- It is once-in-a-lifetime chance to collect cord blood – a readily available source of HSCs when needed in the future.
Here are 6 top reasons why you should consider umbilical cord lining banking for your baby:
- Umbilical cord lining stem cells have immune-modulating characteristics. Therefore matching of stem cells between donor and the patient may not be required, which makes them useful both for your baby and other members in the family;
- Umbilical cord lining stem cells can also help increase the success rate of stem cell transplant. It contains two types of stem cells – Mesenchymal (MSCs) and Epithelial (EpSCs) Stem Cells, which can be used to support multiple medical treatments whenever needed.
- With umbilical cord lining stem cells, your baby and family members will have more treatment options in the future, especially for disorders* that are incurable today such as stroke and heart attack.
- Compared to other sources such as bone marrow and adipose tissue, stem cells from umbilical cord lining are younger with better expansion capacity and patients receiving such as stem cells have lower risk of graft versus host disease.
- Using cryogenic storage method, umbilical cord lining can remain viable for a long time. This means that the therapeutic value of umbilical cord lining stem cells are well-preserved until the need for treatment arises.
- Your baby has one chance to have his/her umbilical cord lining collected as this painless and harmless process must be done at birth.
To celebrate the Word Cord Blood Day in the Philippines, Cordlife Philippines spearheaded activities promoting awareness on this life saving resource and procedure. Aside from being the first, Cordlife Philippines is the only DOH-registered Cord Blood Bank in the country. The event was hosted by Cordlife Brand Ambassador Dimples Romana also present were co-ambassadors Nina Corpuz,Vanessa Matsunaga, and other MOMbassadors
It featured talks and lectures from experts and parents who have chosen to avail of the Cord Blood Bank services. They all see the need to enlighten Filipino families on why cord blood banking should be considered as an available standard option for treating over 80 life-threatening diseases like leukemia and other blood disorders.
Dr. Arvin Faundo, one of the leading Stem Cell Transplantation experts in the country also stressed the importance of this decision for expectant parents. According to him “expectant parents in this country must be given sufficient information on the importance of cord blood banking. If the choice is not made, that chance is lost for good.”
The celebration of the Word Cord Blood Day was very enlightening. Aside from having a better understanding of cord blood, I also found out that it’s not as expensive as I thought it was. Cord blood banking can cost around Php183,000. This may not be affordable if you have to settle it immediately. The good news is that Cordlife Philippines has a price plan that allows you to pay it in 18 years!
That’s Php850 per month, cheaper than your phone or cable bill, a small price to pay for safeguarding your child’s health in the future. If I get to have another baby, I am definitely banking our umbilical cord blood.