Since it was discovered that the blood in umbilical cords is home to life-saving stem cells, scientists have found that a variety of diseases can be treated with them. Although many people are aware that leukemia can be treated with cord blood stem cells, the majority do not know about the other diseases that a cord blood transplant could save.
Towards the end of the nineties, it was found that cord blood had the potential to treat diseases of the blood. One of these diseases was sickle cell anemia, a disease which results in the red blood cells adopting a crescent shape, which leads to them carrying inadequate amounts of oxygen around the body. In 1998 the first blood transplant on a child with sickle cell anemia was performed, and it was successful.
Cord blood transplants also have the potential to treat disorders of the immune system. One of these diseases is leukocyte adhesion deficiency, a condition where the patient’s white blood cells–which form a large part of the immune system–fail to recognize and combat serious diseases. This can be life-threatening, but with the right treatment the patient can live a normal life.
The stem cells obtained from cord blood can also be used to treat metabolic disorders. Krabbe disease, which is a rare nervous system disorder, cannot be cured completely, but the symptoms can be alleviated through the use of a stem cell transplant. There is also evidence to suggest that the early use of stem cells in Krabbe disease may be the way to cure it completely.
In addition to the above diseases, there are many other medical conditions that can be treated or alleviated through the use of the stem cells obtained from cord blood. This means that donating your baby’s blood could change someone’s life for the better.