Springfield, MO— July is Cord Blood Awareness Month, established by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord and placenta after a healthy baby is born. Cord blood banks stores and preserves newborn stem cells found in the blood of the umbilical cord and the placenta. The remaining blood collected after cord clamping is valuable for newborn stem cells. Parents have a choice between donating cord blood to a public bank for free or paying to store it for their family in a private bank for future medical uses.
Cord blood contains a rich source of unique stem cells that can develop into different types of cells in the body. These stem cells can be used in medical treatments for various diseases and conditions, including certain cancers, blood disorders, and immune system disorders. Cord blood from Blacks can be precious for patients from the same ethnic group. Certain diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, are more prevalent among black individuals, but there are also over 80 conditions that benefit from one cord blood. Unfortunately, over 90% of cord blood gets discarded as medical waste. What if we get people to donate cord blood instead of throwing it away?
Accessing cord blood stem cells from a racially diverse pool can increase the chances of finding a suitable match for transplantation to help cure many diseases, according to “Be the Match.” It’s a very simple thing to do, and it can be lifesaving for sick children. According to the Parents Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, less than 30 percent of parents know they can donate or save their baby’s cord blood. But, in the first 30 seconds of a child’s life, they can save someone else’s life. Parents must decide about cord clamping before birth and talk to their healthcare provider about their preferences. Now is the time to think about saving cord blood for the future of black health.
A limited donor pool is designated for the black community because many are uneducated about how cord blood can save lives. Stem cell transplantation requires finding matching donors through the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) typing system accruing to HRSA Blood Stem Cells. The chances of finding a suitable donor can be higher among individuals of the same ethnic background due to the importance of matching HLA markers. However, there is an underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in public cord blood banks and bone marrow registries. By saving cord blood, we can increase the diversity of available stem cell sources, thereby improving the chances of finding a match for needy patients.
Stem cell therapy is promising for the future of personalized medicine. The genetic makeup of an individual can influence the effectiveness of specific treatments. By saving cord blood, we can access our own genetically compatible stem cells in the future for regenerative therapies or other medical interventions tailored to our specific needs.
To learn more about cord blood banking, visit Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation at https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/can-i-have-delayed-cord-clamping-and-still-collect-cord-blood.