Cord Blood Transplantation

While bone marrow has been used for transplant patients for years, due to limitations of bone marrow transplant, doctors have found that cord blood has the same benefits without the limitations of bone marrow. Recent studies have shown the increased usage of cord blood units.

The reason being cord blood stem cells can overcome the limitations of bone marrow. As a new born cell, it adapts to any environment it is in as compared to an adult cell that might bring about some protest after being put in a separate environment. This is called Graft versus Host Disease where the graft which is also the newly injected stem cells attack the host's already compromised immune system causing it to deteriorate even further.

With cord blood transplants, a patient does not require a 6 out of 6 match to proceed with the transplant. A 4 out of 6 match is the minimum requirement from National Marrow Donor Programme for the transplant physician to proceed with the transplant.

Cord blood harvesting also holds little risk to the maternal donor and infant donor as the cord blood is collected only after the safe delivery of the baby and it is taken from the umbilicus vein connected to the placenta, not from the baby.

Though the use of cord blood transplants has grown for both children and adults, cord blood is used more often in children because a cord blood unit has a limited amount of blood-forming cells. Smaller patients need fewer cells and larger patients need more cells. As some cord blood units may not have enough cells for larger patients, two cord blood units may sometimes be combined for a transplant. This decreases the chances of finding two matching units and as such, with a larger number of banked units, patients will have a better chance of getting a successful transplant.

A perfect match between the patient and the donor or cord blood unit can improve a patient's outcome after transplant.

Donating cord blood to a public cord blood bank, like the Singapore Cord Blood Bank, will increase the public Cord Blood Inventory, and thus increasing the chance of a match for patients seeking a life-saving stem cell unit to survive.