The miracle of birth changes a family dynamic permanently. What many parents are finding out is that it can also help to save another’s life as well. Cord blood that is collected from the umbilical cord after birth are the perfect cells to transplant for bone marrow diseases. It is free to donate the blood, is safe for the baby and the mother, and after testing can be placed on matching registries. Cord blood donors are anonymous and is often used to save the life of children since just one cord blood unit can provide a successful treatment.
Facts About Cord Blood Transplants
1. Since a 1998 publication that studied patient outcomes from cord blood transplants, the New York Center’s Cord Blood Program has seen a 6x increase in donations.
2. 27% of the cord blood recipients fall into the 18+ age category. One-third of this age demographic is above the age of 40.
3. Adults in a Minnesota study on cord blood transplants appeared to have better than 60% survival at 2 years.
4. The percentage of cord blood transplants that are used to treat leukemia: 62.7%.
5. 552. That’s the number of people who have been treated for Acute Lymphoblasic Leukemia with a cord blood transplant from 2005 data.
6. The children who received matched cord blood had a 20% higher survival rate than those children who received matched bone marrow stem cells.
7. 28% of the cord blood transplants have been used to treat genetic diseases. The most common genetic disease treated is Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, closely followed by aplastic anemia.
8. 53% of the people who receive cord blood transplants are of Caucasian descent.
9. 2 out of every 3 worldwide cord blood transplants happens at a US hospital.
10. Over 600 000 umbilical cord blood units have been stored for transplantation worldwide.
11. 30,000. That’s the number of transplants that were performed in the first 25 years of the procedure.
12. Only 30% of patients who require an allograft will have a human leukocyte antigen sibling donor.
13. Umbilical cord blood can be cryopreserved for over 20 years with efficient recovery.
14. In 147 patients, most with acute leukemia, the cumulative incidence of neutrophil recovery was 90% with GVHD rates around 10% at the 2 year mark.
15. The probability of disease-free survival with a cord blood transplant: 44%. Children typically have higher overall survival rates at every marker than adults. 16. The initial cord blood transplant results for adults at a 40% mortality rate before day 100.
17. The odds of a child using their own cord blood stem cells by the age of 20 in the US: 1 in 5,000. If sibling cord blood is also considered, then the odds become 1 in 2,500.
18. The odds in India of a child using donor cord blood stem cells: 1 in 2,000. This is because of the prevalence of Thalassemia, which has a 1 in 10 chance of occurring in some castes.
19. When related donor cord blood is used for a transplant, survival rates are 3x higher at 1 year than if unrelated cord blood is used.
The advantage of cord blood is that it doesn’t have to be as closely matched as bone marrow. It’s also frozen and stored, so it is ready for use immediately when a transplant is required. Graft Versus Host Disease is also less common and severe when using cord blood. That’s why knowing these facts and statistics is so important. If you’re expecting a child, after you get to meet this new addition, be sure to agree to a cord blood donation.
What Does the Future Hold For Cord Blood Transplants?
Since the first procedure was performed in 1988 on a 5 year old patient with severe aplastic anemia, many successes have been found with this procedure. The patient who received the transplant is not only still alive and healthy, but has complete long-term immunological and hematological reconstitution.
What does this prove? That cell transplantation works remarkably well. Although no medical procedure is 100% effective all the time, the reparative effects of cord blood cannot be ignored. Those effects should be studied to see if they have other applications other than just bone marrow diseases and other blood-related conditions.
This is especially true in children as these transplants have shown to be superior to even standard transplants. As results continue to improve for adults, cures for some difficult diseases and conditions may finally be realized.