Sydney Cord Blood Bank - What is Cord Blood
What is Cord Blood and how is it used
Cord Blood is the blood remaining in the placenta after the delivery of the baby and the umbilical cord cut. This blood has provided the baby with nutrition while in the womb but after birth is no longer needed and would normally be discarded. It is collected from the umbilical cord vein in an average volume of about 90mL. This collection is performed without disturbing the normal delivery practice and is therefore not harmful to the mother and baby.
The cord blood is rich in blood stem cells. These stem cells are the building blocks of the blood cell. They are normally found in the bone marrow, which can perpetually produce the blood cells found in the circulating blood (white cells, red blood cells and platelets). Cord blood can be frozen and banked and kept for over 20 years without loss of potency of the stem cells. Cord blood is therefore an alternative source of stem cells to bone marrow.
Bone marrow transplantation is a curative treatment for many otherwise fatal diseases such as cancer (including leukaemia and lymphoma), immune deficiency, aplastic anaemia and thalassaemia. The problem is the bone marrow donor has to be compatible and the white cells rigorously matched in their tissue type (the equivalent to ABO blood groups on red cells). Only about half the patients needing a bone marrow transplant can find a suitable compatible donor. Cord blood stem cells do not need such rigorous matching and if there are a large number of banked cord blood donations, over 90% of patients are able to find a suitable cord blood for transplant and therefore cord blood is potentially more versatile and usable.
During the past 20 years, over 8000 cord blood transplants have been undertaken in both children and adults. Initially cord blood transplants were performed as a last resort for patients where there was no compatible bone marrow donor and the patients would have died without a transplant. However, there were survivors, and now, 20 years later, and with increasing experience, it is clear that cord blood transplantation is not a last resort treatment but an alternative to bone marrow, and in many situations the preferred option.
Cord Blood Transplant is a curative treatment for diseases such as:
- Immune deficiency
- Acute and chronic leukaemia's
- Some haematological malignancies
- Blood diseases such as Aplastic and Fanconi Anaemia
- Metabolic Storage diseases
More diseases are being treated with Cord Blood Transplant. Consult your Haematologist or Oncologist for additional information.