About Cord Blood + Cord Blood Banking

What Is Umbilical Cord Blood and How Is It Useful?

Scientists are learning how important a role umbilical cord blood can play in transplantation and cellular therapy.

Since 1988, hematopoietic stem cells from umbilical cord blood transplants have been used to treat lymphoid and myeloid leukemias, Fanconi’s anemia, aplastic anemia, ß-thalassemia, sickle cell disease, Hurler’s syndrome and other ailments.

In cases where children in need of a bone marrow transplant have no genetically-identical sibling or well-matched adult bone marrow donor, umbilical cord blood can be a life-saving alternative.

Should I save my Baby’s Umbilical Cord Blood?

In families where a sibling or other family member has a genetic or malignant condition that could potentially be treated with an umbilical cord blood transplant, cord blood storage is a good idea.

However, if your family is among the vast majority of those who are not affected by this, there doesn’t appear to be an advantage to storing cord blood for personal use at this time. Keep that in mind if you’re approached by someone from a private cord blood blank who may offer to help you store your baby’s cord blood at great cost.

On the other hand, donating your baby’s cord blood to a public bank could provide hope to patients who have no matching donor in their own family.

For more information, see this useful summary provided by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.

Canada’s Public Cord Blood Bank

There are patients in need of bone marrow transplants who have no matching donor in their own families and can find no match among unrelated donors in bone marrow donor registries.

For them, cord blood donated to a public bank may be the last, best hope, since cord blood stem cells may be capable of generating all the cellular elements in the blood and immune system as bone marrow does. Unlike in bone marrow transplants, it appears that cord blood stem cells don’t have to be a perfect match with the patient. So, where there is no risk to the mother or the infant, public umbilical cord donation is encouraged.

In 2013, Canadian Blood Services (CBS) launched a national collection program for umbilical cord blood with collection sites in Vancouver, Edmonton, Brampton and Ottawa. The program is making it possible for healthy women 18 years older to donate their baby’s cord blood.

CBS expects to collect about 18,000 cord blood units over the next six years. The donated cord blood will be available to patients unable to find donors among their families or donor lists. For more information, click here. You can also learn more by visiting the onematch.ca website.