Saving lives… with umbilical cords

Saving lives... with umbilical cordsSounds weird? Or perhaps even downright freaky?

Not so, say experts. In fact, it has been proven time and again that umbilical cords could even save lives as they are imbued with stem-cell rich tissue which has the potential to cure a vast number of diseases. These truly amazing blood stem cells can be used to regenerate bone marrow and this makes them unbeatable in the treatment of leukaemia, genetic diseases that cause irregular blood formation, server immunodeficiency disorders and other diseases that require stem cell transplants.

If you think this is a novel idea though, you’d be mistaken. Private umbilical cord banks are said to have proliferated in Spain since 2006 when the Prince of Asturias took it upon himself to preserve his eldest daughter’s umbilical cord in a private bank of this type in the United States. These banks are pricey, and can cost up to 2,000 euros – however, luckily there is a free public alternative. The difference between the public and private umbilical cord banks is quite simple: private banks save the stem cells for the exclusive use of the patient or client, whereby the cords which are donated to the public banks by law must be made available to anyone in the world. 

However, despite this practically unlimited power to cure diseases, the sad fact is that many parents simply discard them after births never realising that their human “waste” could actually contribute to the health improvement of another human being. Indeed, the umbilical cord blood bank in Malaga provided cells for 52 transplants in 2010, an increase of 53 per cent over 2009 and the number of donations is growing according to awareness.

After a recent survey in Malaga, it was revealed that 20 per cent of expectant mothers offer to donate their baby’s umbilical cord, making it the Andalucian province with the highest number of donations.

Isidrio Prat, the director of the public umbilical cord bank (Banco Andaluz de Sangre de Cordón Umbilical) was quoted as saying “There is increasingly greater awareness of this life-saving practice, which explains why the number of donations has sky-rocketed” He went on to state that when the idea is proposed to them, 100 per cent of women choose to donate. “For those who don’t donate, it is simply because they are not aware”

So, how can you help?

In order to save umbilical cord blood new parents need only to state their intent to donate, sign a consent form and undergo an analysis with the aim of ruling out any transmissible diseases.

The hospital will then take care of the rest and you’ll be on your way to potentially saving or extending a life.

How about that for the humble body appendage commonly deemed “useless” after birth?

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    Susan Markel, M.D.

    Hi, for my kaynote address at the 2011 LaMaze Conference I will be discussing delayed clamping of the umbilical cord. May I have permission to use the photo in the posting?
    Dr. Markel

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