We just found out that our dear friends’ 24-year-old son, Luke, was diagnosed with leukemia. I wonder if your baby could have helped him? I’m talking about cord blood donation.
There are many diseases, such as leukemia and other blood cancers, which can be treated with bone marrow. The goal is for the healthy cells from the donor to replace the diseased cancer cells. It takes time to find a bone marrow match, and the procedure can be painful for the donor. But, there is another source for these life saving cells: the umbilical cord blood from a newborn baby.
The first place cancer patients turn for a bone marrow transplant is to family members. Unfortunately, 70% of patients will not find a match this way. Even if they could find an unrelated donor, the match may not be close enough.
This is where cord blood comes in. Because of its versatility, it helps patients who cannot find a bone marrow match. It can be used for patients who have an uncommon ethnic heritage, or children who have a life-threatening genetic disorder. You may remember the story of Adam Nash, whose cord blood saved his big sister Molly from Fanconi’s anemia. And because its already stored cord blood helps patients who need a transplant quickly.
How does all of this work?
Parents should decide by the eighth month of pregnancy to save their baby’s cord blood, as well as the blood in the placenta. They have four options: 1) Donate it to a public bank, where it can be used immediately or when the need arises. 2) Store it privately, at their own cost, for their baby’s future medical needs. 3) Store it for a family member who has a medical need. 4) Donate it for research.
Cord blood collection is pain-free. And, the privacy of both mother and baby is protected, because only the tissue type is disclosed.
The challenge for cord blood storage is the cost, as much as $2,500 for private collection. There’s no cost to donate. So far, federal funds cover the cost of public donation of 10,000 new units each year. But, if there were funds for 400,000 units of cord blood, we could match 90% of all patients with serious blood diseases.
The life-saving ingredient in cord blood is stem cells. These are the amazing cells that can morph into other kinds of healthy cells. But, unlike embryo stem cell research, no human embryos are destroyed. This is an ethical win/win situation.
As Christians, we have compassion for the sick and disabled, and desire their physical healing. We are concerned that no tiny humans be destroyed in medical research. We can achieve both goals—healing and protection—with cord blood donation. So, pregnant mom, what are you waiting for? Make the call.
People like Luke need you.