Sunday, March 05, 2006

Cord Blood - New Hope For New Transplants

Cord blood can be used as an alternative to bone marrow transplantation.

Stem cells can be retrieved from umbilical cord blood. For this to occur, the mother must contact a cord blood bank before the baby’s birth. The cord blood bank may request that she complete a questionnaire and give a small blood sample.

Cord blood banks may be public or commercial. Public cord blood banks accept donations of cord blood and may provide the donated stem cells to another matched individual in their network. In contrast, commercial cord blood registries will store the cord blood for the family, in case it is needed later for the child or another family member.

After the baby is born and the umbilical cord has been cut, blood is retrieved from the umbilical cord and placenta. This process poses minimal health risk to the mother or the child. If the mother agrees, the umbilical cord blood is processed and frozen for storage by the cord blood bank. Only a small amount of blood can be retrieved from the umbilical cord and placenta, so the collected stem cells are typically used for children or small adults.

SenatorsDodd and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), held a press conference to announce introduction of the Cord Blood Stem Cell Act of 2003. Representatives of the New York Blood Center, as well as patients who have been treated using cord blood stem cells, also participated.

The Cord Blood Stem Cell Act of 2003 would create a network of qualified cord blood banking centers to prepare, store, and distribute human umbilical cord blood stem cells for the treatment of patients and to support research using such cells. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Senator Woods, Australian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Family Services said:

"The Federal Government recognises the importance of establishing and expanding a cord blood bank and has recently provided $200,000 to the Australian Cord Blood Bank to undertake this life-saving work,"

"Cord blood is an excellent alternative to bone marrow transplantation in treating leukemia and cancers in children and it does not have the compatibility problems when matching donors with recipients.

"The Australian Cord Blood Bank will help decrease the number of Australian children waiting for transplants and by developing our own cord blood bank Australia will no longer have to rely solely on the generosity of international registries."

"In 1995 a seriously ill boy in Newcastle desperately required a bone marrow transplant but despite checking something like 3.5 million donors on worldwide registers there was no suitable donor to be found. Upon checking one cord blood bank, 10 possible donations were found and today, some 10 months later, that boy is well and has a much brighter future."

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