Did you know: Cord blood or the cells found in the blood of the umbilical cord can be used to treat and develop treatments for a wide range of diseases and conditions, saving the lives of patients and advancing our understanding of medicine. Those in the healthcare community are encouraged to learn about the vital role cord blood cells play in the healthcare industry as they help unlock new doors for scientists and doctors.
Take a moment to learn about cord blood and the difference it can make in a patient’s life.
What Is Cord Blood?
Cord blood is the blood that’s found in a mother’s umbilical cord. These cells can be collected after the baby is born and stored in a public or private cord blood bank for future use. Cord blood cells are a type of stem cells, much like those collected from peripheral blood and bone marrow. These cells have the unique ability to grow into all kinds of cells, including tissue and organs. This makes them an effective tool for doctors trying to cure or relieve a range of serious diseases.
Unlike stem cells collected from bone marrow and peripheral blood, cord blood cells are easier to collect. Doctors and nurses can easily collect the cord blood using a sterilized collection kit after the umbilical cord has been sealed shut and severed. There is also a greater likelihood that a patient will match a cord blood sample, compared to bone marrow stem cells that can have patient compatibility issues. Patients and doctors can also use cord blood cells much sooner after the collection process compared to other types of stem cells. As there is also a greater chance of transplant success, making cord blood cells the most valuable and efficient stem cells available.
How Are Cord Blood Cells Used?
Cord blood cells have proven to be effective when used to treat the following diseases and conditions:
- Blood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma and various anemias
- Bone marrow diseases such as fanconi anemia, aplastic anemia, thalassemia and sickle cell disease
- Immunodeficiencies and metabolic deficiencies such as leukodystrophies and Hurler syndrome
In addition to these use cases, cord blood is also being used to develop new treatment methods for a range of diseases and conditions, including:
- Type I diabetes
- Heart defects
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cerebral palsy
- Brain injuries
- Other autoimmune disorders
While cord blood cells have yet to successfully treat these conditions, doctors and scientists are optimistic about their chances as they continue to depend on cord blood cells for research.
What Nurses Need to Know About Cord Blood
We are encouraging all nurses to be aware of the potential of cord blood cells. Expecting mothers may want to donate their cord blood for medicinal purposes or keep it in a private cord blood bank in case their family needs stem cells later in life. Giving birth is a rare and beautiful gift and mothers should be aware of their options when it comes to collecting and donating cord blood.
If a nurse would like more information on the life-saving potential of cord blood, they can talk to their supervisor or visit the Food and Drug Administration website for more information. Cord blood is regulated by the FDA, including both private and public cord blood banks.
Stay tuned to the NurseGrid blog for more healthcare news and advice for nurses.