Cord blood banking in Singapore
Learn more about cord blood banking and why you should store your child’s cord blood in preparation for unforeseen circumstances in future.
The umbilical cord blood contains stem cells that are proven to be vital for treating medical diseases. Every year however, people are discarding valuable cord blood away. And this is a waste of potential life-saving stem cells.
Stem cells are the building blocks of our bodies. More specifically, the stem cells found in the cord blood are called hematopoietic stem cells. Cord blood stem cells contain the same type of stem cells as bone marrow stem cells. But unlike bone marrow stem cells, the cord blood stem cells are the youngest and freshest stem cells. They can regenerate and replace any diseased bone marrow, or pose as solutions for leukaemia, lymphoma or used for sibling transplant to treat diseases such as thalassemia. Stem cells are not only found in the cord blood but the umbilical cord tissue, which contains epithelial and mesenchymal stem cells. These are stem cells that go on to form your bone, skin, liver and hold huge potential for future regenerative medicine, especially to rejuvenate the bone marrow or replenish the immune system.
Since stem cells are extracted from your child’s own body, these stem cells will be a perfect match for him or her, if they ever plan to use the stem cells in future. In the event of sibling transplant, there is a 60 per cent likelier chance of finding a cord blood match as compared to sourcing for a bone marrow match among family members later.
These stem cells can be used to treat early onset diseases, such as cerebral palsy linked to the damage of the womb, or spinal cord injuries. As mentioned before, cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma, or blood disorders such as thalassemia can be treated with cord blood stem cells. Besides these, other cancers like Neuroblastoma and Retinoblastoma, immunodeficiency disorders like Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), and various other metabolic disorders can be treated with cord blood stem cells. However, clinical trials for some diseases are still underway. There has yet to be standard treatments for these diseases although stem cell treatments have shown to be beneficial. For more information on these diseases and clinical trials, visit the Clinical Trials website.
Diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2001, three-year-old Ryan Foo was saved by his sister’s cord blood stem cells after trying other treatment options. At that point of time, he was given a 10 per cent chance of recovery unless he received a bone marrow transplant. He was also the only child then and neither of his parents were a match. He had a one in 20,000 chance of finding a donor. After hearing about cord blood treatment, Ryan’s parents decided to have a second child to save Ryan’s life. Thankfully for them, Rachel’s stem cells were found to be a 100 per cent match for Ryan. At the age of five, Ryan’s leukaemia is declared to be in remission.
Cord blood stem cells are used to treat a wide range of diseases. Not only can your child have the chance to benefit from such treatments, his or her siblings too stand a high chance of using these stem cells for treatment. When you donate your child’s cord blood, his stem cells may also be beneficial to the public. Should a patient ever find a match with your child, he or she will use your child’s cord blood stem cells for treatment. Cord blood stem cells are also destroyed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy. If you opt for cord blood banking, you would have a peace of mind at least, knowing that valuable stem cells are stored in a secure place, and can be retrieved whenever you need them.
As of September 2012, Singapore Cord Blood Bank (SCBB) has assisted in 14 transplants and reached a number of over 8943 cord blood units in its inventory. As for private companies, Cordlife has over 40,000 cord blood units in its inventory, while Stemcord has over 30,000.
Watch this video on false hopes associated with cord blood banking