Why is Cord Blood Vital?
Patients who have serious illnesses like blood diseases, genetic conditions or damaged bone marrow due to radiation and chemotherapy can benefit from stem cell transplants. Cord blood stem cells are an alternative to bone marrow transplants. These cells are young, more adaptable and more pliable than stem cells from bone marrow; this results in fewer transplant complications and rejection. They don’t require an exact tissue match between the donor and the recipient. It is simple – cord blood saves lives.
“Of all the stem cell sources, cord blood allows for some mismatching, so it allows us to accommodate children that I would never otherwise find a full match for.”
Dr. John Doyle, Sick kids Hospital Annual Report, Toronto
Tissue typing is used to match patients and donors for bone marrow or cord blood transplants. In Canada, groups such as Aboriginals, African-Americans, Asians, and Southern Italians – as well as people of mixed ethnicities – have a difficult time finding a bone marrow donor because of the wide diversity of tissue types in those populations. However, because cord blood cells do not require a perfect match, many individuals within our mixed population can benefit from these valuable cells. In many cases, these cells may be the only treatment option. Sue Robson, Executive Director of the Lymphoma Foundation of Canada stated in 2011 that blood cancers are the fourth most common cancer in Canada. They account for more than 43% of all childhood cancers. Even more alarming, she states that the frequency rate of blood cancers is rising in young adults between the ages of 18 and 35. Sue Smith, Executive Director of OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network at Canadian Blood Services (CBS) specified on the CBC news in March 2011 that there were more than 800 people who need a stem cell transplant in Canada. Having a greater public inventory of cord blood stem cells benefits everyone in Canada and around the world. These cells save lives and minimize the stress for families waiting for a donor with an appropriate match.
“Banked public cord blood is a game changer in pediatric transplantation”
Dr Donna Wall, Director, Manitoba Blood & Marrow Transplant, Cancer Care Manitoba; Board Member, Victoria Angel Public Cord Blood Bank