Straight out of the delivery room? You have just had the umbilical cord cut. Did you save it?
The umbilical cord is used as a symbol for an emotional life line – yes, as the normal usage of the term “cutting the umbilical cord” would have us believe. A physical life line? But of course – in more ways than the one that is common knowledge.
Your baby drew its nourishment from the blood you passed on to it through the cord. But did you know that it could very well use the same lifeline – quite literally – any time during its life? That the “umbilical cord” no longer refers to just an emotional attachment, but a very real source of lifelong protection?
What till recent times was considered to be nothing more than a biological waste has now been shown to hold hopes for people who suffer from hitherto untreatable, fatal conditions.
The umbilical cord is a rich source of “stem cells”. These are basically cells which are capable of transforming into a host of different kind of cells that form the organs in the human body.
These cells have been shown to help people suffering from conditions such as thallasaemia (caused by an abnormal form of haemoglobin in the blood), aplastic anaemia, some kinds of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, spinal injuries, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cerebral palsy and many other conditions which till now were considered untreatable, and either debilitated one all throughout life, necessitating expensive and painful treatments or even resulted in untimely deaths.
The benefits of cord blood are manifold:
- A very major advantage is that it is very easy to harvest cord blood which otherwise is just discarded. Other sources of stem cells are embryos and foetuses. It means terminating the life of the embryo or foetus, which is unethical.
- It can be collected and stored frozen for long periods of time under special conditions (-196ºC). The cells remain dormant at this temperature until they are revived. Their ability to regenerate and function when revived remains intact.
- Cord blood has the advantage of being a 100% match for the child from which it is taken (should the need ever arise) and also as high as a 75% match for the child’s siblings. Parents of children who require cord blood transfusions have been known to have one more child in order to save the life of the ailing child – so that the cord blood can be harvested at birth. So now you know how useful it is to save cord blood, why not store it for the very first baby?
- It is a painless procedure unlike harvesting stem cells from the bone marrow. Besides obtaining stem cells from the bone marrow of an adult would mean only adult stem cells would be available and that would compromise their function.
By storing your baby’s cord blood at a good cord blood bank, you will be giving your entire family a chance at life, should the need ever arise. Cord blood can be collected only at birth. Don’t lose that opportunity. What bigger gift can give your family?