Cord blood,an insurance against future ailments

Cord blood banking,made fashionable after filmstars Madhuri Dixit and Raveena Tandon stored cord blood during delivery as an insurance against future medical ailments for their child,is taking off in a big way in Mumbai.

Written by Swatee Kher | Published: February 8, 2009 3:42 am

Seven families plan second child with hope for first child’s recovery

Cord blood banking,made fashionable after filmstars Madhuri Dixit and Raveena Tandon stored cord blood during delivery as an insurance against future medical ailments for their child,is taking off in a big way in Mumbai.

The city is giving a new push to stem cell donation by becoming the biggest cord cell donor in the country. Mumbai registers around 100 donations a month. Other cities like Coimbatore,Chandigarh,Hyderabad and Pune are also catching up.

“Mumbai is the highest donor. The maximum potential is in South Mumbai,while maximum enrollment is from Vile Parle and Juhu belts. We have reported close to 50 donors from this area regularly,” said Mayur Abhaya,executive director of LifeCell International Private Limited,Chennai.

Cord blood is the blood in the umbilical cord and placenta following delivery. The child’s umbilical cord and placenta are discarded post-partum; it has been recognised that blood from the umbilical cord is rich in potentially life-saving stem cells. Stem cells are early-stage cells with the potential to self-renew and regenerate into tissues. Due to this capability,stem cells play a vital role in treatment of leukemia and other cancers. To date,nearly 50 different types of blood cancers and disorders have been treated with cord blood.

Seven families are now banking on it for treating ailments of the first child by planning a second child,keeping in mind the possibility of treatment through cord blood. “We have seen couples plan deliveries to treat their first child. All the seven samples were retrieved for siblings. There are many who are sceptical,but for these families it is new hope,” said Abhaya.

Their hope rests on the fact that the Human Leukocyte Antigen system (HLA) of the donor and recipient should match for treatment,and this is possible among siblings. “Since treatment through cord blood is similar to the one by bone marrow transplant,most oncologists are familiar with it. They do not need any other special training for cord blood,” said Dr Chirayu Padhiar,Medical Director,LifeCell

In August last,a couple retrieved stored cord blood for treating a sibling at a medical centre in Chennai. The older child was suffering from a chronic myeloid leukemia for which cord blood was used.

In September 2006,an NRI couple from Hyderabad retrieved cord blood stored by them for treating their elder child,said company officials. Cord blood was used on the girl with Thalassemia major at the treatment centre in Thailand ,though the donation was made in Chennai. There have been retrievals for hospitals in Ahmedabad and Singapore too.

Cord blood banking has been controversial as blood collected this way takes up to 180mL from the neonate (sometimes up to half of the total blood volume),which is a highly controversial subject in perinatal medicine.

The company which recently tied up with Cryo Cell International has reported all the seven retrievals from among its 15,000 odd cord blood donations so far. The company has now decided to offer free storage and delivery facilities to anyone who has a pre-existing ailment which can be cured and decided to store cord blood with them.

Once cord blood has been stored,it can be retrieved even after 50 years. Currently clients with the company make an agreement for 21 years.

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