Don’t Just Cut the Cord, Save It

By Katie Wilson,

Cord Blood Banking PhotoIn the last two decades, hematopoietic stems cells (HSCs) drawn from the umbilical cord blood have thrown the doors open to scores of medical breakthroughs and they are used in treatment for more than 80 different diseases, including certain types of cancer. Since the first successful cord blood therapy in 1988, more than 35,000 transplants have been completed worldwide and now, almost half of pediatric treatments involve cord blood stem cells.

After collection, cord blood is administered to a patient that needs healthy, adaptable stem cells in their system. These cells begin repopulating inside the body, which speeds up the patient’s treatment process and improves their chances of a successful recovery. In the past 8 years, the list of conditions treated with cord blood has doubled.

Why Are Cord Blood Stem Cells Key?

Doctors and researchers are constantly improving the treatment methods they use during stem cell procedures. While cord blood treatments—and stem cells in general—are still considered an emerging science, dozens of diseases are currently approved by the FDA for cord blood therapy.

Cord Blood Banking Infographic

Specifically, doctors have noted more than a few benefits of cord blood stem cells:

  • Cord blood cells multiply very quickly. While the amount of stem cells collected from cord blood is lower than other stem cell procedures, HSCs from the umbilical cord generate new cells at a faster rate. Researchers are also experimenting with ways to increase the number of stem cells given to a patient, such as using two different cord blood units in the same procedure.


  • HSCs from cord blood naturally move to damaged areas. After HSCs are transplanted into a patient, cord blood cells will move through the blood system to the area where they are needed most. Once they arrive, the transplanted HSCs work with the body’s cellular system to repair damage.
  • Umbilical cord cells are more adaptable than other types of HSCs. Compared to bone marrow and peripheral blood transplants, cord blood cells are younger and more immature. This means HSCs from the umbilical cord have a much higher chance of adapting to the patient’s system, preventing graft-versus-host disease. Bone marrow usually requires a 5 out of six HLA match or higher, while many scientists suggest cord blood HSCs only require a 3 out of 6 match.


Which Diseases Have Been Successfully Treated with Cord Blood?

Cord blood is often given with more traditional types of treatment like chemotherapy. In cancer patients, doctors use heavy amounts of chemotherapy to eliminate diseased cells. Unfortunately, this leaves patients with a dangerously low cell count. A cord blood transplant is then given, which boosts the patient’s cell count and provides them with healthy HSCs.

HSCs can be used as a treatment for:

  • Blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma
  • Immune system disorders like aplastic anemia
  • Metabolic conditions like Hurler syndrome and Krabbe disease

Once the cells are injected into a patient’s system, they move through the bloodstream to damaged areas like the brain, heart, or other vital organs. After they arrive, the cells adapt into the type of cell most needed by the body, and begin multiplying. This increases the patient’s healthy blood cell count and improves their recovery time.

Armed with this knowledge, have you considered banking your child’s umbilical cord cells?

Other Cord Blood Banking Resources

ConsumerAffairs published a Cord Blood Banking Guide that explains the procedure and contains hundreds of reviews from families who have donated to cord blood banks. The guide also contains a 3-minute video providing information about the collection process to expecting parents.


At, we want to provide you and your family with relevant information on cord blood, banking options and emerging research so you can make the best decision possible for your family. Our organization promotes awareness for current and future stem cell treatments, and we are committed to being the most comprehensive and up-to-date resource available for mothers and families considering cord blood.

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