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Umbilical Cord Blood Transplantation for Leukemia and Cancer

Updated on July 19, 2010

Featured book on Amazon: Umbilical Cord Blood: A Future for Regenerative Medicine

Transplantation of umbilical cord blood is consolidated as a therapy against leukemia and also for treatment of cancer. Due to more awareness about the benefits of umbilical cord blood in treatment of many critical illnesses, there are millions of parents around the world who are preserving, storing, and banking their baby’s umbilical cord blood rich in life-giving stem cells. It was in 1988 in Paris when a 5-year-old boy suffering from Fanconi anemia underwent first umbilical cord blood transplant. Today after 22 years of that procedure, umbilical cord blood transplantation has been established as a treatment not only for leukemia but also for many other diseases including sickle cell disease, other metabolic disorders, and even cancer. Though the stem cells necessary for a bone marrow transplant can be obtained directly from the bone through a spinal tap or through peripheral blood stem cell harvest, but umbilical cord blood transplants are especially suited for children and adults weighing less than 40 kg. In total, there have been in the world thousands of such transplants. The statistics clearly show that these transplants are increasing from year to year and are already beginning to see positive results even in adults. There are differences between the donation of bone marrow and umbilical cord blood. The number of stem cells in cord blood is much lower than those we can get through the bone, however, are much more vital cells and have a much lower requirement for compatibility. In emergency situations, cord blood units that are already identified are much more easily available in cord blood banks.

Learn how doctors collect cord blood stem cells
Learn how doctors collect cord blood stem cells

Umbilical Cord Blood Banking Process

  1. Carolina is 4 months pregnant. Her gynecologist gives her the opportunity to donate or bank her baby’s cord blood and tells her that this is once in a lifetime chance to save her baby from any critical illnesses he/she might get in the future.
  2. Carolina confirms with her husband and they both agree and consent for umbilical cord blood banking.
  3. Umbilical cord blood is rich in stem cells compared with normal blood.
  4. The blood collection is performed during the birth when the baby and the placenta are attached and are going to be detached.
  5. After collecting the umbilical cord blood, it is frozen and stored.
  6. Cord blood banking causes no risk to either the baby or the mother.
  7. The only requirement is that the parents, especially mother sign a consent to undergo a test to check that she has no blood-borne diseases and the baby took birth without complications.
  8. After quality control, umbilical cord blood is stored in banks and is available when a patient needs it.
According to some senior cord blood transplant specialists around the world, “Ideal situation will occur on the day when 1500,000 units of cord blood will be stored in the world as this will increase the possibilities of applying each patient the most appropriate form of transplantation”. Currently, there is an international network of 15 million donors and a reserve of lacks of units of cord blood samples but still there is a need for donating and banking cord blood. The more cord blood, the more chances for exact matches because now also a little more than half of patients who lack a family donor and only a few patients who undergo transplantation succeed in overcoming the disease. With the recent increasing rates of mortality and morbidity around the world due to rare diseases, umbilical cord blood banking has become really important.


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    • Prisana profile image

      Prisana Nuechterlein 

      7 years ago from Thailand and Colorado

      My son had a cord marrow transplant in 1998 that saved his life after he was diagnosed with aggressive leukemia. Because he was 1/4 Thai, it was extremely hard to find a good match, but he was quite fortunate even with a less than perfect match. Thanks for making people more aware of the importance of cord marrow banks!

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks you so much equealla.

    • equealla profile image


      8 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      We can just stand in amazement of the new wonderful things discovered today. Bless the souls of those who started out with this idea.

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks a lot billiott for your review of this article.

    • belliott profile image


      8 years ago

      Interesting information. Thanks for sharing.

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      I wish to God that she be all fine. Thanks a lot CYBERSUPE for sharing your info.

    • CYBERSUPE profile image


      8 years ago from MALVERN, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A.

      My wife has Leukemia and I found this Hub very interesting and Informative. Thanks soni2006.

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks a lot for your visit and comment DiamondRN.

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      That would be a great day when there was plenty of this precious stuff for all who would need it.


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