Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cord Blood, Stem Cells, and a Promising Future

I was inspired by an article that I recently read I about the Gift of Life Foundation, and all of the good work that they do for people around the world who are suffering from terminal and life-threatening diseases such as leukemia.

The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation was founded in 1991, and has helped to facilitate transplants of stem cells and bone marrow for patients worldwide. Gift of Life plans for its newest program, the Cord Blood Program, to be of great benefit to people with life-threatening and debilitating illnesses.

Cord blood is the residual blood which is left over from the placenta and umbilical cord after a baby is born. In the past, cord blood was viewed as medical waste, and was disposed of accordingly. However, we now know that cord blood is composed of a unique type of tissue which promises many advances in the treatment of various illnesses, due to the high content of stem cells that are contained within cord blood.

After a baby has been born, the cord blood can be harvested and preserved by freezing, and then stored in order to be used at a later point in the future. Cord blood collection is not painful to the baby or the mother, as the blood is collected after the umbilical cord has been cut and sutured. Harvesting cord blood does not cause any additional pain or risk to either the mother or baby; the delivery process remains the same, regardless of whether or not cord blood is collected.

After the cord blood is accepted by Gift of Life, it is shipped to the lab to be tested, processed, and stored until it is needed in the future for treatment of certain life-threatening diseases, as well as some genetic disorders.

I find the concept of using cord blood for life-saving stem cells to be extremely fascinating; the ability to harvest such vital components of potential cures for some of the world's worst illnesses, without any additional pain or risk to other life, to be such an inspiration! Such advances fill me with hope for a brighter and healthier future for the generations to come!

You can donate cord blood to the Gift of Life Foundation, as well as the National Marrow Donor Program.  By bringing a new life into the world, you may also be saving someone else's!

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