Can Cord Blood Be Used for Parents and Other Relatives?
When it comes to newborn stem cell banking, there are so many questions that parents may have in regard to who can use or access the cord-blood stem cells in the future. The truth is that preserving your newborn’s cord blood is just as much for your family as it is for your child. So […]
When it comes to newborn stem cell banking, there are so many questions that parents may have in regard to who can use or access the cord-blood stem cells in the future. The truth is that preserving your newborn’s cord blood is just as much for your family as it is for your child. So can cord blood be used for parents and other members of your family? The short answer is yes, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Your child will always 100% match to their own stem cells, but parents, siblings, and other close relatives have a higher chance of being a match as well.
Today, we will discuss how blood matches work and how it pertains to stem cell matches as well.
General Overview of Blood
Blood is a vital part of life and is necessary for keeping humans alive by delivering nutrients and oxygen to the body. It can also come in different types, commonly known as A, B, and O blood types, which can vary from person to person. Today, blood can be donated and stored at blood banks where it can then be used for patients in need of blood matching their own type. Donated blood can save lives, but not all blood is the same, apart from the different A, B, and O types.
In developing fetuses, the blood that delivers nutrients from the placenta is rich in stem cells. These cells are essentially the body’s raw materials, as they have the ability to develop into other kinds of cells in the body, from the muscles to the brain. When a child is born, the umbilical cord and the placenta remain attached for a small time, but inside the umbilical cord itself contains what is known as “cord blood”, which is the blood containing stem cells from the time the infant was developing in the uterus. As more research continues on cord blood being used for stem cell therapies and treatments, it is also worth wondering if cord blood can be used for parents and other relatives the same way normal blood can.
The main purpose of blood is to deliver nutrients and oxygen throughout the body by the use of its red and white cells. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to bodily tissue for metabolism and then transporting carbon dioxide back as waste to be exhaled through the lungs. White blood cells, on the other hand, are the body’s immune system response to foreign material like bacterial infections, viruses, or diseases. They work by attacking these harmful germs and rendering them useless so they can no longer function, creating antibodies to fight them off entirely, and even killing cancer cells should they start to appear.
What is Cord Blood?
Cord blood collected from the umbilical cord of a newborn is unique in the way it contains fresh and easily obtainable stem cells not normally found in a typical blood draw. That does not mean stem cells are not made after birth though, as new stem cell formations occur in the blood of bone marrow, which is the spongy tissue found in certain bones in the body. However, the method of harvesting through bone marrow can be more tedious as it takes about two hours to collect one liter of bone marrow from a willing patient. It can also leave them with major side effects and complications such as infections or nerve damage.
Cord blood on the other hand can easily be collected immediately after birth and it offers just as many benefits for medical treatments that may be needed in the future. Unfortunately, you only have one opportunity to collect your newborn’s valuable cord blood stem cells, which is why it’s important to make the decision before you deliver your child.
How Is Cord Blood Used?
Generally speaking, cord blood stem cells are used for researching and treating various diseases and cancers, but can cord blood be used for parents and siblings the same way normal blood can? For the most part, yes! A parent of a child who’s cord blood was cryogenically stored in a private cord blood bank can use the cord blood so long as there is a Human leukocyte Antigen (HLA) match between the two. This is not to be confused with blood types, which is determined by antigens found on red blood cells. HLA’s are proteins found on white blood cells and play an important role in transplants and transfusion of blood in a person’s body. A match between two individuals means the tissues are immunologically compatible with each other and will not be rejected by the body’s immune system.
The same process goes for other family members as well, and unlike bone marrow transplants which require a 100% match of HLA’s, cord blood is more lenient if there is a small mismatch between them. The likelihood parents have a match with their child is 50%, while siblings have the greatest chance at around 75%, making them the ideal candidate.
Because cord blood stem cells are immature and have not been exposed to other viruses and pollutants the way adult stem cells have, they perform with a much higher rate of success once they enter the bloodstream, repairing any damaged tissue and killing off cancer cells. This makes cord blood a valuable resource for treating more than 80 different diseases and has helped over 40,000 people since 1988. If blood diseases and cancers are a risk for families, it might prove beneficial to have cord blood of a child in the family stored privately for future use for themselves or anyone else who might need it. While funding for research and further studies of cord blood and stem cells continues, it has shown promising results in the medical field and may be the cure for a lot of other conditions in the near future.
Preserving your newborn’s stem cells can not only protect your child’s future but your family’s future as well. If you would like more information on cord blood banking with a trusted stem cell bank, contact AlphaCord today.
AlphaCord has been an industry leader in providing the best Newborn Stem Cell Storage at affordable prices for over two decades. Call today and join the thousands of parents that have stored their newborn’s stem cells with us!