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Cord blood is the blood that remains in a baby’s placenta and umbilical cord after birth.
Cord blood is an important alternative to bone marrow for transplantation because it contains all of the natural elements of blood and is rich in blood-forming stem cells that are similar to bone marrow but do not require as close a match between the donor and recipient.
Cord blood, as discussed further below, allows patients who do not have a well-matched bone marrow or stem cell donor to receive stem cell transplants. Patients who do not have a matching donor are more likely to be of a minority race or ethnicity. Cord blood donations frequently benefit people of similar ancestry to the donor.
Mothers can now donate their newborns’ umbilical lead blood and have it publicly banked so that it can be used for life-saving transplants by anyone. Donating Cord Blood is used to treat the same conditions as bone marrow transplantation, but it has several advantages:
The collection of cord blood poses no risk or trauma to the donor, whereas bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell collections can be invasive and painful.
Because the newborn’s immune system is less developed, an exact match is less important with cord blood because the recipient’s immune system is less likely to react.
Cord blood can be frozen and stored for years — even decades — in order to be distributed quickly “off the shelf” when a need arises.
Aside from direct use in clinical treatments, regenerative medicine researchers believe umbilical lead blood holds promise as a source of stem cells for potential medical therapies and treatments.
Cord blood donations are especially important for ethnic minorities for a variety of reasons. Because a partial match with lead blood is acceptable, more minority patients can find a suitable unit for treatment. Furthermore, African-Americans are more likely than others to have sickle cell disease, which can now be treated with cord blood transplants.
California is an ideal place to focus on improving cord blood collection because of our ethnic diversity. A more diverse pool increases the chances of members of minority groups and mixed heritage finding a match and receiving life-saving treatments.
Couple with a child
Minorities are more likely to find a suitable match from donors within their own ethnic groups in general.