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Banking Cord Blood is Health Investment

I woke up this morning, turned my computer on and checked my mail alerts. I used to collect alerts about “cord blood transplant” and as of the moment, I read about a hundred cases that are hard to forget. I scanned my alerts and just like that, a story of a mom immediately caught my attention.

Her way of thinking on cord blood is different. To her, “it’s better to have it than not to have it.” One day, she was handed with a brochure for cord blood banking. She read it and all the information were new to her. It was her first time to know the umbilical cord of an infant is filled with rich stem cells. These are the type of stem cells that are the building blocks of healthy cells and it can cure fatal diseases like cancers, cerebral palsy, Type I Diabetes, etc.

When she got pregnant with her first child, she talked to her husband about her decision to bank cord blood. She’s thinking if they can invest their money for a car then why not keep something to save a life. It’s inevitable for her to feel hesitant and ask several what-if questions. Saving a cord blood can be stored successfully for more than seven years without any signs of degeneration. If in any case a couple won’t need it, they can still choose to donate it or save it for another sibling (25% compatibility match). For her, she’ll feel safer once she and her husband have a cord blood preserve in a bank.

Bouncing Back

A fungal infection or rather known as Aspergillosis is one of the most feared side effects when treating leukemia. This type of infection is exactly what three-year-old Zach Gowling, a local kid in Monmouth, Illinois, who received treatment to cure his PH+ Leukemia.

As a result of his first but failed cord blood transplant, Zach suffered more complications (pancreatitis is just one of them) and a weaker immune system. He also needed to undergo two brain surgeries to combat Aspergillosis.

Zach stayed emotionally strong during the difficult times and while preparing for his second cord blood transplant. Even his father admired his inner strength to “never griped and always did what he was told.” (ReviewAtlas, August 2011)

Before the scheduled treatment, it’s inevitable that Zach’s parents received direct advice from the doctors just to go home and wait for the expected. However, good times happen when least expected. Doctors confirmed there were no major setbacks after the surgery. Zach could fully recover.

As of the moment, although he might have little deficit in his growth, Zach performs well in school and been a straight A student. Below are what he wrote on his mom’s Facebook page.

“I am 11 and I am a two-time cancer survivor. I don’t remember all the details. … I remember bits and pieces. I remember being hooked up to so many cords. Mom called me her ‘little puppy on a leash.’ I remember Dad making me walk laps in the hall even when I didn’t want to. He said I’d get sicker if I didn’t. I remember people coming in to my room and talking about me like I wasn’t there. Sometimes I would fake sleep. I remember Mom and Dad being sad sometimes and trying not to let me see.”

“I remember lots of good stuff too. I remember my doctor being a little funny guy who always liked to squish on my stomach. I remember nurses, lots of nurses who always took care of me and made me smile. I remember the toy bin in clinic — that was AWESOME!”

“I remember meeting a donkey named Apple. I remember watching helicopters come and go from the helipad outside my bone marrow room. Firefighters visiting from Tucson No. 5 making me an honorary firefighter. I still have the get-well sign they made me. I remember Dad smuggling in a tarantula in a tupperware bin and we named it after one of the nurses. I remember Mom sitting on her own piece of pizza and not even knowing it until Dad told her. … I know I got to know Mom really good. She says I can still read her like a book.”

Auction for Recovery

Chace Topperwien was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia when he’s about two. This was the moment where his life completely changed. He’s losing weight fast, he’s getting weaker and the complications of his disease started to appear. Both his parents (Ryan & Keri), who are both 27 years in age, needed to give up their jobs just to attend Chace’s needs.

Luckily, the family received big help from their friends and relatives. A lot of them sent their prayers and financial contributions. They also scheduled to raise funds through a breakfast auction “Shave for Chace.” In fact, the venue of the breakfast took place at Waikato University Academy of Performing Arts on July 28, 2011 (7:30 AM) and tickets were sold for $50 to $450 for every table of ten persons.

Naomi Simmonds, a close friend of Keri and the head organizer of the breakfast auction, said:

“We really just wanted to get behind her … and just support them in what is probably every parents’ worst nightmare. We’ve had lots of people ring in and email and say the story’s really touched them and they want to support.”

Ryan Topperwein confirmed his son’s last round of chemotherapy was successful. It reduced the cancer cells and his doctor declared Chace is fully ready for cord blood transplant.

More Funding for Cord Blood Stem Cells

This morning, I opened my mail alerts and it’s nice to read some good news. I quickly read it and I realize there’s much chances for cord blood industries to prosper.

In United Kingdom, a funding worth £4 million is invested for stem cell services. A man by the name of Anthony Nolan runs a charity and he decided to work hand-in-hand with the country’s successful stem cell register (NHS Blood & Transplant). Through this, Nolan is on a mission to increase the collection by recruiting more qualified donors.

This fund project is said to include three parts:

First, Anthony Nolan with the help of NHS Blood & Transplant firms up and they will be given access to more than seven hundred adult donors in the country.

Second, a suitable match for the transplant can easily be search because Nolan becomes the sole contact point and a fit panel composed of twenty-thousand young adult donors will be established.

Lastly, there’s budget of £2 million for five existing cord blood banks. As one of the largest bank in the world, the NHS Cord Blood Bank is expected to raise its collection samples from seventeen thousand to thirty-five thousand units.

Private Cord Blood Banking & Autologous Therapy

A detailed report on the relationship of private cord blood banking and autologous therapy was published in Health News Digest. In this report, two doctors by the name of Francis Verter and JJ Nietfeld compares the rate of a cord blood stored in a private bank and a cord blood donated in a public bank. Sure, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) favors the latter but understanding the other side of the story is still good. By the end of 2009, it’s found out there are more than 200 cases of autologous therapy (banking cord blood).

Dr. Nietfeld confirms the cumulative probability of a ten-year-old child who will receive a matched cord blood stem cell is only one in 5000. That said, if this type of therapy which involves cord blood, especially to twelve percent of patients with cerebral palsy – the number of children receiving stored cord blood can be greater and the total number is even double than those who only received a cord blood from matched donors.

Cord Blood for Cerebral Palsy?

I have a brother who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was five.    In medical terms, cerebral palsy is defined as a type of neurological disease which is irreversible and is characterized by lack of control in body movement, spastic muscle coordination and delayed brain development. I want to find a cure for my brother and give an end to his condition.

This morning, I stumbled this site and I discovered in the Philippines, at least twenty babies are born with cerebral palsy everyday. A statistics is revealed by Cerebral Palsied Association of the Philippines (CPAP) and it says   that for every 1,000 live births, 3.5 of this number suffered with this disorder.

Keith Yu-Ching Goh is the first neurosurgeon who performed cord blood stem cell transplant in Asia. He performed it to a six-year-old girl of an Australian couple. Her name is Georgia and she underwent cord blood transplant on September 8, 2009. “She received 80% of her own blood stem cells in ten minutes.”

Just two-and-a-half months after, rapid improvements in Georgia’s visual contact, vocalization and posture were noticed.

Due to this successful breakthrough, CordLife Philippines instantly received various applications for cord blood banking. This company assured every donor that their facility meets the standards set by American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) and by International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Its medical director, Dr. Arvin Faundo, even said:

“Any family that has stored their children’s cord blood stem cells can be part of this medical revolution and will have more medical options available to them. The chance of locating a cord blood match within the family is 60 percent higher compared to a bone marrow match.”

This is what my brother is waiting for and for those who want to read the entire article: Read Safety Nets for Newborns, Adults

Cord Blood: To Donate or To Store?

It’s confirmed stem cells from umbilical cord might help to cure a number of blood-related cancers and few genetic disorders. These diseases cover leukemia, brain cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, etc.

What many people are debating about is the decision whether to donate the cord blood or store it in private banks. The state law is in favor of public donation but it doesn’t mean private banking is not advantageous. The Cord Blood Registry in San Bruno, California is the largest bank of umbilical cord in the world. Its facilities are guarantee earthquake-and-tsunami free in which more than 300,000 cord blood samples are stored inside the cryo-nitrogen filled container.

Based on a source, CBR couldn’t reveal the number of samples it released for transplant however, in year 2007 alone; only 53 units are used for treatment. This number created a buzz around the world, questioning the necessity of private banking. The truth of the matter is; the ratio of using your cord blood or a sibling’s cord blood is 1:1000 to 1:200,000 depending on what study you read.

Because of this, majority of health experts show support for public donation. Kathy Engle of CBR just replied:

“You can toss around all the statistics you want but it should be a choice that’s left up to the family.”

Comparing the cost with public donation, private banking can be expensive for some. In CBR, it requires you to pay $2000 for the collection and for first year of storage. It will also ask for annual storage fee of $150. While it public banking, you are not given the right to own your cord blood but it doesn’t ask for any collection and storage fees. The access to cord blood is expensive, about $35,000 but the bank’s number of released cord bloods is higher compared to private banks. As of the moment, the number has reached the twenty thousand mark.

Cord Blood Stem Cell vs Embryonic Stem Cell

Cord Blood Awareness Month is celebrated every July. Every couple out there, newlyweds or not, should have the right to be properly informed either to stored their newborn’s umbilical cord or donate it in public cord banks. However, the biggest problem until now is – this simple process of collecting stem cells embraces various misconceptions and controversies. Some people who are not well-informed about this procedure think it is unethical and some mistakenly associate it with embryonic stem cell.

The cord blood stem cells are entirely different from embryonic stem cells. In cord blood, you only use the stem cell found in baby’s umbilical cord. When a baby is delivered, the doctor removes his umbilical cord and placenta. Instead of throwing it away, the blood (which contains stem cells) inside the cord and placenta is squeeze out using a syringe and store in a fridge. Collecting cord blood is a safe procedure and it will not hurt the mother or the baby. In fact, this procedure is performed because scientists confirmed the younger the cells, the bigger the possibilities of curing fatal diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, Parkinson’s, spinal injury, etc.

While in embryonic stem cell, its collection process is complicated. It’s considered unethical because it requires you to kill a life. The nucleus of the embryo cell is removed, transferred to a human egg and results to cloned embryo. The cloned human embryo is developed and destroyed just to harvest the stem cells.

Stem cells can either be found in cord blood or embryonic but when these cells are harvested, it plays similar roles – that is – to cure diseases which many think are irreversible. Embryonic stem cell might be as effective as cord blood cell; It just attempts to give a right solution but its unethical procedures is unacceptable to humanity. It’s unnecessary to destroy a human life just to save another life, right?

The Boy Who Survives

Who is Nicholas Volker?

Nicholas Volker (nickname: Nic) is an ordinary little boy in Wisconsin who was diagnosed with rare gut disease during his second birthday.

What Happened Next?

Alan Mayer and his team of doctors in Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin examined Nic and on May 2007, four abnormal holes (fistulas) and two deep tears in the rectum area were found. This condition resulted to a leak of fecal wastes to his anus and scrotum.

A colostomy was performed. The doctors prepared stomata that allow waste matters from his digestive tract to pass into through a colostomy bag. However, Nic only became very ill. Serious wounds around the stomata began to surface and his digestive process even weakened.

Nic experienced extreme weight loss that time. A painful cleaning of the wound must also be performed for four months. Nic’s colon was damaged by sores and his doctors must remove it to avoid further complications.

Cord Transplantation

Nic’s only hope for survival is umbilical cord blood transplantation. This type of transplantation could be difficult and complicated. It might have compatibility problems, Nic’s immune system must also be rebooted and the recovery days could extend for more than a year.

Nic received the cord blood from an anonymous donor. The transplantation was also a success but during those recovery periods, Nic must still see his doctor for more routine consultations and was even hospitalized twice in December 2010.

New Nic, New Life

Two days ago, it was reported Nic savored the pleasures of life. He returned to his healthy lifestyle and at aged six, he began playing T-ball, tennis, swimming and skateboarding. As what his mom said, he’s still a little kid who wanted to play and eat whatever he wants. Sean, Nic’s dad, along with his elder sister, Mariah, was supportive of him. Nic’s experiences, doctor’s findings and Amylynne’s journal were thoroughly detailed here: One In A Billion: A Boy’s Life, A Medical Mystery

Photo courtesy of: One In A Billion Update

Legacy Emanuel and Good Samaritan

The American Red Cross works with Portland-area hospitals to collect the umbilical cord blood from a newborn baby. The organization is the sole supplier of blood and blood products to more than 80 hospitals in Oregon, Washington and Southeast Alaska.

Legacy Emanuel Hospital is the Portland site of the American Red Cross Western Area Community Cord Blood Bank.

A mother is giving birth at Legacy Emanuel or Good Samaritan Hospital, has the opportunity of making the birth even more special by donating umbilical cord blood to the American Red Cross Cord Blood Bank.

Cord blood donations are possible only at Emanuel and Good Samaritan.

Legacy Emanuel Children’s Hospital
2801 N Gantenbein Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97227
(503) 413-2200

Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital & Medical Center
1015 NW 22nd Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97210
(503) 413-7711