National Children’s Leukemia Foundation
Giving the Gift of Life at Birth
What is Cord Blood? Cord blood is another name for umbilical cord blood. It is the blood that flows between mother and fetus during pregnancy. After birth, the umbilical cord isn’t needed by the baby and is thrown away as medical waste. However, scientists now know that cord blood contains valuable cells that can be used to save the lives of cancer and leukemia patients.
What kind of lifesaving cells are in cord blood? The lifesaving cells in cord blood are called “stem cells”. These cells are also present in adult bone marrow. Stem cells from adult bone marrow or cord blood are used in lifesaving transplants to replace cells that have been damaged by cancer or leukemia.
How does cord blood banking save lives? Did you know that 70% of patients needing a stem cell transplant cannot find an adult donor match in their own family, and the chance of finding a non-related donor is even smaller ? Thankfully, cord blood contains the same lifesaving stem cells found in adult bone marrow, but cord blood cells are less likely to be contaminated by viruses or environmental toxins than those found in adult bone marrow, making cord blood cells even safer and more effective in transplants. And, cord blood can be collected through a pain-free and non-invasive procedure at birth.
“When I was told by physicians that my teenage son Meir had leukemia, I can only compare it to having someone take a sledgehammer and pound it into my skull. With these words, my life collapsed. If I had been given the option of storing Meir’s cord blood when he was born, perhaps, Meir would still be alive today. Parents need to be aware how storing cord blood can save lives.”
Steve Shor, Founder of the National Children’s Leukemia Foundation
Are there any risks associated with cord blood banking? NO. Cord blood is not collected until after the baby is born. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, collecting cord blood does not affect the baby, mother or birth experience.
Each year, more than 4 million children are born in the United States. If every childbearing woman chose to collect and store cord blood, millions of lives could be saved!