Why Dr. Zhang Promotes Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Banking
During the month of July, the movement known as Cord Blood Awareness Month is actively promoted by Dr. John Zhang. The Parents Guide to Cord Blood Foundation founded this movement to promote general public awareness of how umbilical cord blood stem cells are successfully used by medical professionals in the treatment of disease and tissue regeneration.
Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Banking
Cord blood stem cells are found in the blood of a baby’s umbilical cord after birth. With their instant availability at birth for banking, cord blood stem cells are a widely used source of healing and regeneration used by transplant physicians.
Healing Stem Cells
Healing and regenerating stem cells can be retrieved from three sources:
- Cord Blood
- Bone Marrow
- Peripheral Blood
Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Banking
As a parent-to-be, you can pre-arrange to have your baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells retrieved after the birth and banked for future medical use.
- Blood in the umbilical cord, and
- Tissue making up the umbilical cord
Collecting and storing a baby’s umbilical cord blood and tissue is not recommended as an insurance policy for the donor baby. The stem cells from umbilical blood and tissue are primarily used to treat a sibling or relative of the baby that has a medical disease treatable by a cord blood transplant.
Umbilical Cord Blood
This is the blood fluid from the baby that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth. This fluid contains special cells – hematopoietic stem cells – that are used to treat diseases. These special stem cells have the ability to mature into different types of blood cells in the body when transplanted.
Benefits of Umbilical Cord Stem Cells
The cord blood of your baby is an abundant source of stems cells.
- Stem cells are genetically related to your baby
- Stem cells are genetically related to your family
- Stem cells are able to transform into other types of cells in the body to create new growth and development
- Stem cells are building blocks of the immune system
Stem cells are dominant cells contributing to the development of:
- Systems in the body
Medical Advances in the Use of Umbilical Cord Stem Cells
Stem cells have the potential of providing medical professionals with the ability to treat a broad range of diseases – up to 70 – or use in future experimental medical research.
- Cancer – leukemia and lymphoma
- Blood disease (anemia)
- Immune system disorders preventing the body’s ability to defend itself
- Genetic disorders
- Neurological disorders
Advantages of Umbilical Cord Stem Cells vs. Bone Marrow Stem Cells
Hematopoietic stems cells are also found in adult and children bone marrow. However, umbilical cord blood and tissue stem cells have several advantages over those retrieved from bone marrow.
Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells:
- Contain 10 times more stem cells than those collected from bone marrow
- Newborn stem cells are one-half as likely to be rejected during treatment compared to adult stem cells
- More matches are possible with cord blood stem cells than when bone marrow is used
- Cord blood stems cells are less likely to be rejected than bone marrow stem cells
- Cord blood stem cell collections are very low risk and painless for mother and baby
- Bone marrow stem cell collections pose medical risks and are painful for the donor
- Cord blood fluid and tissue can be frozen and banked – ready for use by a match
- Collection from bone marrow is difficult and the stem cells must be used promptly – no storage vessel is available
- Unlike umbilical blood cord stem cells, bone marrow stem cells do not have the capability to strengthen the immune system during cancer treatments
Easy Retrieval of Umbilical Cord Stem Cells
Umbilical cord fluid is not only loaded with stems cells, it is easy to collect after birth and can be performed whether your delivery is natural or via cesarean section.
- Within 15 minutes after the birth of your baby, the doctor simply clamps the umbilical cord in two places about 10 inches apart
- The cord is cut – separating mother from baby
- A needle is inserted into the cord (syringe method) – collecting at least 40 milliliters of fluid from the cord – similar to a draw for a blood test
- Or, the umbilical cord will be elevated to drain the flood into a bag (bag method)
- The blood is sealed and labeled before being sent to a cord blood bank within 48 hours for testing, processing, flash-freezing, and storage
- The entire collection procedure takes about 5 to 10 minutes
Pre-Arranging to Collect Umbilical Blood After Birth
- Private or family banks store cord blood and tissue for autologous use – or – directed donation to a family member for an allogenic transplant
- Select a private bank and make sure you have a signed contract for cryopreservation within 48 hours after collection
- Ask about the total cost – including charges for collection, processing, flash-freezing, and annual storage fees
- Contact your private bank and obtain a collection kit at least six weeks in advance of your due date
- Note: Your delivery hospital may not have collection kits on hand
- Note: Your delivery hospital may not provide umbilical cord blood collection services
- Parents must give written consent before labor begins
- The mother’s blood must also be tested beforehand
Avid Promoter of Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Banking
Dr. John Zhang is an avid promoter of umbilical cord blood stem cell banking at the time of a baby’s birth. To schedule your initial consultation with Dr. John Zhang, call 917.525.5496.