Cord Blood vs. Type 1 Diabetes: The Fight Is On

The human blood is, probably, one of the greatest gifts we can give to other people— or even to ourselves. It helps our body to function normally, and for patients, blood is the safety rope that they hold on to for their dear life. Some medicines may come and go, but blood supplies (as long as there are willing blood donors and ongoing blood donations) will always be there.

Speaking of blood, an umbilical cord— which is clamped and cut after birth— is packed with nutritious blood and placenta that can also help millions of patients in need. Over the years, stored cord blood has been used for scientific researches that have been proven to have significant contribution to the medical field. For example, stem cells from cord blood have been tested and converted into nerve cells, which is a groundbreaking event not only for researchers, but also for people who will need it in the future.

Unfortunately, some umbilical cords are being disposed of after birth, with all the nutrients and important placenta being thrown away with it.

Fortunately, there is a new discovery from the field of science that may change mothers’ minds about throwing their umbilical cord away after birth.



On May 27, Isla Robinson, a four-year old Australian girl, made scientific history by becoming the very first person in the whole world to be injected with her own cord blood for the prevention of her own illness— specifically type 1 diabetes.

Little Isla, whose body has been detected to have more than two antibodies that could increase her chance of developing type 1 diabetes, is one of the 20 children (and, actually, the first) who are scheduled to undergo cord blood transfusion in Australia. This is for a study led by Associate Professor Maria Craig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Children’s Hospital in Westmead, Sydney, and sponsored by Cell Care, the country’s largest cord blood bank.

Isla’s mother, Rachel Weldon, decided to bank the child’s cord blood in Cell Care in 2011, which has proven the decision to be a good idea four years later. “It just seemed like a good insurance policy, I suppose,” she said.

After Isla’s siblings were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, with her sister Ruby being the latest, she has been taking tests every six months for the past three years. After having three harmful antibodies, she was subject to transfusion of her own cord blood, in the hopes of preventing or delaying the disease from developing inside her body.

“All the studies suggest she will actually develop it one day, so if we can stop that it would be fantastic,” Craig said. “I’m hoping we can completely switch off that autoimmune process and she will never get it.”

The study is still ongoing, and with the 19 other patients who will undergo cord blood transfusion, there is still hope that this fascinating procedure would eventually work.



So, how does this new medical study actually work?

In a formal sense, the procedure has two phases: the screening phase and the treatment phase.

First Phase: Screening

For the first part, participants (or the 20 young patients selected out of the 600 Australian children with cord blood banked in Cell Care, the sponsor of the study) will be tested for Insulin, GAD, ZnT8 and IA2 autoantibodies. The medical team, led by Craig, will also measure their random glucose and hemoglobin A1c levels.

If, unfortunately, two or more antibodies to islet antigens are detected, then the patient will proceed to the treatment phase.


The reason for this is because the presence of more than one antibody could mean a higher risk of type 1 diabetes development, so the patient will need further examination if ever this case occurs.

Second Phase: Treatment

The next phase of the study involves a more in-depth treatment.

For the second part, patients will be getting single intravenous infusion of autologous cord blood, which contains >5 x 106 total nucleated cells per kilograms recipient body weight. This cord blood will be infused to the patient for about one hour.

If negative antibodies are detected, then the patient will be subject to repeat screening in a course of 12 months.

Isla’s Phases

In Isla’s case, the donated cord blood from her umbilical cord four years ago underwent various steps before being re-infused inside her body.

Cryoprotective agents have been added to her cord blood for storage purposes, and then on the day of the transfusion, it was defrosted, washed, and diluted.

The re-infusion took about half an hour, and for safety reasons, Isla was given a mild antihistamine and antibiotics before the transfusion.



This is a great advancement in the field of health and medicine, but according to Craig, it is possible that cord blood is not really the cure to type 1 diabetes.

For example, in Isla’s case, the cord blood treatment may not be the permanent cure for her possible type 1 diabetes. Instead, the high amount of T-cells (or Tregs, a kind of immune cells) in the blood could only delay the time when she actually develops the illness.

“It could be many years while it dampens down her immune response,” Craig stated.

However, she expressed that the delay in Isla’s development of type 1 diabetes would be a fine opportunity for them to try more effective studies and experiments.

“Even if it could delay it to adolescence, until she is older, that would be fantastic because that also buys us time for other therapies that are being developed,” she said.



The cord blood, which is proven to be abundant in immune cells and other vital nutrients, is believed to help children with possible type 1 diabetes (like Isla). These cells can possibly reboot their immune system and completely prevent the disease from landing in their body forever.

Branches of this study are still ongoing around the world. For example, in Bavaria, Germany, children with T1D are being re-infused of their own cord blood to test if insulin-producing cells in the pancreas can be regenerated. The research team which is in-charge for this is also studying the effects of cord blood in metabolism change and immune function, which leads to islet regeneration.

Little by little, the silver lining for people— especially children— with T1D is now showing itself for the whole world to see and feel.

To Delay or Not To Delay: Impacts of Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping

When giving birth, it is a common practice for doctors/midwives/caregivers to clamp and cut the umbilical cord that connects the mother and the newborn infant. Usually, the cord is cut within ten seconds after giving birth. But recently, the idea of delaying the clamping and cutting of cord blood is spreading across the world, with scientists conducting studies about it and mothers actually giving it a try.

Why are they choosing this over the usual quick clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord?

This article will show you the two sides of delayed umbilical cord clamping and cutting— the advantages and the disadvantages. While this idea seems more beneficial than destructive, there are still dangers to consider when choosing to delay the clamping and cutting of the cord.



To delay or not to delay— that is the burning question. Before weighing the pros and cons of delayed cord clamping and cutting, you must first understand what the umbilical cord is.

The umbilical cord is the one that joins a fetus (later becoming a fully-developed baby) to its mother. The one end is actually attached to the infant’s stomach (the navel, to be exact— this is why the umbilical cord is also called a “navel string”) while the other end is in the placenta of the mother’s womb.

Now, why is this cord so important to both the mother and the baby?

The cord consists of one vein and two arteries, and all are responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood and nutrients from the mother to the baby, as well as returning waste products and deoxygenated blood from the baby back to the placenta. The umbilical cord also serves as a medium for the placenta to give antibodies to the baby, so it will be immune from infections for up to three months after birth.

To sum things up, the umbilical cord is a healthy link between the mother and the infant. Whether delaying the clamp-and-cut process will bring more nutrients to the baby takes another batch of facts, though.



One study suggests that, after giving birth, there might be a good reason to let the umbilical cord linger on the mother and the baby for a while.

According to neonatologist Dr. Heike Rabe of the Brighton& Sussex Medical School in UK, infants benefit from getting an extra supply of blood from the placenta at birth, which is caused by the delayed clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord. Since the cord is still attached to the mother and the baby, all the blood and nutrients (including iron, which is very important in the development of the baby’s brain) flowing through the navel string can still be acquired by the baby, even if it’s already out of the womb.

“The extra blood at birth helps the baby to cope better with the transition from life in the womb, where everything is provided for them by the placenta and the mother, to the outside world,” Rabe stated. Therefore, a few extra minutes is encouraged before completely cutting the umbilical cord.

Swedish infants study

Several studies have been conducted to prove that delaying the umbilical cord clamping has beneficial effects to the baby. Some of these studies have been done in the past, and they have shown positive effects during the later moments of the baby’s infancy. However, few studies (one in particular) have dared to look way past the infancy and into the early years of the baby.

This study was conducted with half of 263 newborn babies in Sweden, which were grouped into two teams: those whose cords were clamped after more than three minutes after birth, and those who had their cords clamped within ten seconds after birth.

Fast forward to four years after that experiment, these children were tested for various skills, such as IQ, social, motor, problem-solving, behavior, and communication. The results showed that those whose cords were clamped a bit late got fairly high scores in fine motor skills and social skills, especially the boys. Rabe speculates that the reason for girls not showing significant improvement in this study is because of their high estrogen levels while in the womb.

More for preemies

While the practice of delaying the clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord can clearly benefit healthy term babies, Rabe believes that pre-term infants (or premature babies) would gain more from this process.

Premature babies, whose cord-clamping were delayed, have shown improvement in various medical aspects. These infants had better blood pressure a few days after birth, required fewer medicines and blood transfusions, had lower chances of a dangerous bowel injury, and experienced less bleeding into their brains.



It is fairly reasonable to not get your hopes high after reading the advantages of delayed umbilical cord clamping, because along with the pros comes the cons.

The highly-recognized disadvantage of delayed cord clamping is the possible (and higher) risk of jaundice, which is a bilirubin build-up in the blood that results to the yellowing of the infant’s skin and eyes. Because the baby will be getting extra blood with the delay of the cord’s clamping, there could be a chance of a surplus in the infant’s red blood cells— which is possible to result in a normal cell breakdown, causing the bilirubin build-up.

There is another risk in delaying the umbilical cord clamping. According to Dr. Scott Lorch, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine’s associate professor of pediatrics, a condition known as polycythemia could also stem from delaying a cord’s clamping. It is a disease caused by a very high count of red blood cells, which could result to blood clots, strokes, or respiratory distress to the baby.

However, these risks have not been fully proven on all types of infants yet, and according to Lorch, “We should see whether similar effects are seen in higher-risk populations, such as the low socioeconomic population, racial and ethnic minorities and those at higher risk for neurodevelopmental delay.”



Whatever you choose— delaying the cord clamping or immediately having it cut— always note the possible side effects both to you and your future child. If in doubt, remember the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation on cord clamping: not earlier than one minute after birth, for the mother and the baby’s health improvement.

Beat The Decline: Blood Supply Shortage In Summer and How To Stop It

Every two seconds, a patient in the United States is in need of lifesaving blood. With this in mind, the American Red Cross estimates that over 41,000 blood donations are needed every single day. Actually, this number is possible to meet, considering that there are billions of people in the United States, let alone the whole world.

The only problem? There are not enough blood donors who are willing to give and give, just as long as they have enough blood in their bodies.

The worst part is… those who donate are usually out of the scene in significant breaks of their lives, which is during the summertime.

With this article, you will be able to understand why summer is, unfortunately, not a good time for patients who depend on blood for their lives. It will also help you realize that blood donation should not stop when the summer season kicks in.



According to the American Red Cross, blood donations tend to decline when summertime starts. To support this data, they have their recent spring survey of their blood and platelet donors, which states that almost 90 percent of them have planned to take vacations this summer season.

This best explains the decrease in blood supply during summer. People take vacations— sometimes out of the country— and enjoy their free days apart from school or work, so, as a result, blood donation centers are not getting enough blood bags from their usual donors. In short, those patients who need blood every two seconds are not receiving enough lifesaving blood that they should be acquiring.

Sadly, patients who rely on blood cannot easily take vacations like their donors, so a lot of blood transfusions are still needed even in summer. The American Red Cross alone is in need of an estimated 15,000 blood donations every day for about 2,600 centers and hospitals nationwide, so they heavily rely on their volunteer donors to do the wonders of blood donation.

What is more depressing than active donors taking vacation is the fact that the donating population is actually a small one.

Greg Cogoli, a consistent blood donor and volunteer coordinator for the American Red Cross’ blood services in Tuscon, Arizona, states that out of all the eligible blood donors, only less than 10 percent actually give blood. “Very few people ever donate, and of those people who donate, a large percentage donate once and don’t donate again,” he said. “So it really, really behooves anyone who can to give it a try.”

Patients who rely on blood to save their lives actually need it because of various medical reasons, such as blood disorders, cancer, accidents, surgeries, and more. This is why the need for sufficient blood supply never wanes.



The American Red Cross, as well as other organizations, is highly encouraging more people to donate blood and give the gift of life— especially in summertime.

Because blood shortage is mostly felt during the summer season, it should be a must for more eligible donors to consider going to blood banks or blood drives and donating blood. This kind of participation is important not only for the American Red Cross, but for the people who will be receiving it, as well. All blood types will be greatly appreciated, although there is an intense need for negative types, such as A negative, B negative, and O negative.

Aside from whole blood donations, the American Red Cross states that there is also an immediate need for blood platelets. This component is helpful in blood clotting, so if you are willing to donate whole blood, why not throw in some of your platelets, too?



This year, the American Red Cross is organizing an event that is directly aimed at people who are considering taking vacations throughout the summer.

The “100 days of summer, 100 days of hope” campaign is being pushed by the Red Cross just in time for World Blood Donor Day on June 14… and for the rest of the summer period. It is officially sponsored by Suburban Propane, a nationwide distributor of fuel oil and propane and a marketer of natural electricity and gas in Whippany, New Jersey. This event is also organized for the Memorial Day holiday, which started on May 25.

To help encourage potential donors to participate in this lifesaving event, those who have donated blood from May 23-25 received a limited-edition Red Cross RuMe tote bag.

This campaign is sure to help increase the supply of blood throughout the summer. Suburban Propane’s CEO Mark Wienberg assures the public— and the patients— that the amount of blood and platelets in centers will be enough for hundreds of patients who need them. “The Suburban Propane family is proud to support the mission of the Red Cross and help ensure that blood and platelets are available for patients in need during the challenging summer months,” Wienberg says. “By partnering with the Red Cross, we are able to continue a noble cause that improves the lives of those in our communities.”



To join the campaign and donate your own blood, you are free to choose from three options by the American Red Cross: you can call them at 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), visit their website at, or download their American Red Cross Blood Donor App, so you can have the comfort of setting up a blood donation appointment on your own mobile phone.

Whatever your choice is, just make sure that you meet all the donor eligibility requirements and— voila!— you will be able to help your fellow countrymen retain their lives with every pint of your blood.

Do not let the supply of blood decline this summer. Make a move and be a hero, today!

Finally, Gays Can Donate: Gay Ban On Blood Donation Ready To Be Lifted

Blood donation, just like any other activities involving the society, also has its own rules and regulations. These pointers serve as the basis for potential, interested donors if they are eligible to give blood or not.

The basic set of rules— such as age limit, weight limit, health status, and identification— is, oftentimes, not a big problem for people who wish to donate, since the bracket for age and weight is very attainable by most of the world’s population (minimum of 17 years old for the age and at least 110 pounds for the weight in the United States). The other rules, though— such as illness history, tattoos/piercings, malaria risk, etcetera— come as a challenge for donors who just want to help. If proven that you have a certain disease that could affect the blood you will be giving, then you will be deferred for as long as you have that illness.

Such is the case of homosexual and bisexual people— especially men. But with the recent news of gay ban on blood donations being scrapped by the authorities, things could be brighter for the gay community and the blood industry… or not.

In this article, we will discover how— and why— homosexual men were banned in the first place, as well as the impact of recent events in both the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and the blood donation community.



On May 12, 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a new federal policy, stating that homosexual and bisexual men are now allowed to donate blood— a far cry from their situation since they were banned from donating blood.

This statement is included in the FDA’s draft guidance, which was initially proposed last December, and will be used to collect comments/reactions from the public for 60 days before releasing the final policy.

So, what was the reason for this sudden turn of events?

According to Dr. Peter Marks, FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research deputy director, they decided to consider lifting the blood donation ban on gay men because of the events which transpired in Australia, a country which implemented a one-year deferral for homosexuals fifteen years ago. “These studies documented no adverse effects on the safety of the blood supply with a one-year deferral,” Marks said. The innovation in technology and changing times also contributed to the ban being completely obsolete.

If this policy is ever implemented, the US will be one with various countries— such as Sweden, UK, Australia, and Argentina, all of which had already imposed the one-year deferral in gay men— in terms of their regulations in blood donation. Other countries which do not totally ban homosexuals from donating (but have deferrals, too) are South Africa (six months deferral), and Canada (five years deferral).

In addition, the American Medical Association’s president, Dr. Robert Wah, commends the FDA for their life-changing decision to stop the gay ban in blood donation. “The AMA fully supports and has been a strong advocate for eliminating these current public policies as we believe that the latest scientific evidence should dictate blood and tissue donation deferral periods to ensure the safety of the national blood supply,” Wah said. “The AMA’s policy supports using scientifically-based deferral periods that are consistently and fairly applied to donors based on their risk level.”



Homosexuals, especially men, were not always deferred as blood donors. However, an epidemic in the late 1970s changed the rules and regulations of blood donation when it comes to gay men.

If you are a keen observer of the blood donation rules, you may notice the clause on sexual behavior/disease. One important rule for male blood donors is you cannot donate if you “are a man who has had sex with another man since 1977, even once.” This is the year when the AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hit the shores of the United States.

Men who have had sexual intercourse with other men, or MSM, were considered to carry HIV or hepatitis B, which can easily affect the quality of their blood. This is why MSM were banned from giving blood at all— until now.

The policy of permanent deferral for MSM— or even people who have had sexual contact with sex workers, injected drugs in their system, or women who engaged in sexual intercourse with a member of the MSM— became apparent in 1983 and was recognized by all blood donation centers until today.



This proposed policy seems like a breath of fresh air for gay men who have been wishing to donate blood ever since they reached the required age. But wait— there is more!

According to Marks, almost half of the deferred gay men population will now be able to freely donate blood because of this policy. But, the proposed action will only be good news to those who are not sexually active anymore.

Yes, this “freedom” comes with a little catch: gay men who are sexually active are still restricted from donating blood, since the new US policy will implement a maximum one-year deferral for homosexuals, especially men in monogamous relationships. In short, if you are a man and you just engaged in a same-gender sexual activity in, let us say, the past month, then you are still banned from donating blood.

It does not sound good now, does it?

While it is considered as a small step to the improvement of the way people view the gay community, activists still question the one-year deferral decision. According to Slate columnist Mark Joseph Stern, “The one-year deferral policy is still rooted in an outdated, insulting vision of gay men as diseased, promiscuous lechers. It’s utterly illogical to forbid a monogamous gay man from donating while permitting promiscuous straight people to give as much blood as they want,” he said.

However, this proposed policy will still be beneficial to the gay community. Finally, homosexuals who want to donate blood can do so— as long as they have practiced abstinence for a full year. Nevertheless, its impact in the MSM group will surely be felt by both the LGBT community and the blood industry.



Yes, this news is a good one for gay men, but it will be most beneficial to hundreds of blood donation centers across the US.

Blood shortages are not an uncommon thing in blood donation centers, and when this proposed policy is finally implemented, it is guaranteed that the number of blood donations will double up, resulting to an improvement in the blood supply all over the US.

Because of the expected increase in blood supply because of potential homosexual donors, the FDA will make sure that the blood coming from them will fit the health standards. This is why they will implement a blood surveillance system that aims to ensure the overall safety of the expected blood supply, as well as monitor the effect of the change in policy once it is implemented.



There is no doubt that the change homosexuals have been dreaming of for the past three decades is just around the corner. Once the ban on gay men donating blood has been implemented, there will surely be an obvious change in both communities: the blood donation community and the gay community.

When that time comes, the term “gay” will not just be used to represent other men’s sexual orientation, but also for the feeling of euphoria that they will experience once they donate blood.