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Cord blood explained

Updated: Apr 25, 2019

You have heard of ‘bone marrow transplant’ or ‘stem cell transplant’ but not entirely sure what they mean. Fret not and let me explain.

Cord blood is a rich source of stem cells. This collection occurs after delivery and confers no risk to the baby or mother. The blood stem cells (BSC) are useful to treat blood disorders and cancers.

BSCs are also used for stem cell transplants. The patient who received BSCs will develop a new immune system. Previously, BSCs are harvested from a matched sibling. However, many patients are from single child families or siblings fail to match in some cases. As a result, many patients have no cure.

Stem cells can be collected through the donor’s bloodstream by peripheral blood stem cell collection (PBSC). The blood is passed through a machine that collects stem cells. Alternatively, the stem cells can be collected from the donor’s bone marrow.

How does transplant work?

Firstly, chemotherapy is given to kill off abnormal cancer cells. After chemotherapy, the new stem cells will be transfused into your blood. Once the stem cells enter, they will migrate to bone marrow and produce new blood cells. Over time, a new immune system is established that can recognize and remove any abnormal cancer cells. It will also strengthen the immune system against infections. The transplanted patient will be fully recovered!

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