After the birth of a child and the severing of the umbilical cord, there is still blood that remains in the blood vessels contained within both the placenta and the remains. After leaving the mothers body, the child no longer needs this amount of blood. The blood left over is referred to umbilical cord blood or placental blood due to their physical locations, but the two can be summed up by the name “cord blood.”
This cord contains the same components of normal blood, such as the red blood cells, the white blood cells, the bloods plasma, and platelets of the blood. But this cord blood is rich in the hematopoietic stem cells (the blood forming cells of the body), and these are similar to the hematopoietic cells found in the marrow of bones. This is why cord blood has applications, as it is usable in transplantation as a substitute for bone marrow.
What advantages does cord blood have?
The advantages of cord blood as a substitute are varied and numerous, and it is very beneficially to potential transplant recipient. First and foremost the collection of the blood is a simple task to preform, and is more apt to produce a suitable match between patients. Also, it is easy to store as the blood can be frozen and stashed until needed.
Ease of Collection: The collection of cord blood is a very safe technique that poses no harm to the mother or infant. The staff of the clinic collects the blood from the placenta post-delivery, which is why it poses no threat to either parent or child.
Delivery Time: Cord blood is collected from many births, tested for potential issues, and stored frozen to be ready to use when needed. This boils down to the blood being donated in advanced and ready when a person needs it as opposed to having to scan potential candidates in hope of finding a match for the patient. Also, by storing the cord blood in advance it can be reserved as soon as someone needs it as opposed to having to search for a willing candidate and have them tested for compatibility.
Acceptability of Pairings: An invaluable benefit of cord blood transplants is that they do not require the blood and the patient to be a perfect match. Studies have been conducted to show examples of this, with results showing that the transplant of cord blood can be performed with only partial matches, whereas bone marrow grafts require a full 8 of 8 match the majority of the time.
Due to the ability to be stored for extended periods of time, and the ability of cord blood to be matched to patients that are not a perfect match, it can be summed that cord blood increases an individual’s chance of having readily available blood for transplant. These two features allow cord blood to be maintained in within a relatively small donor pool that can still support the needs of most patients who require it. As an example of how small of a cord blood donor collection the nation could manage, it is theorized that a donor pool of 150,000 units nation-wide would be acceptable matches approximately 80-90% of the patients.