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Understanding Sickle Cell Disease

Microscopic view of sicke cells causing anemia disease.

There are many kinds of diseases that are associated with blood. Some are contagious diseases. Others are developed within the body because of lifestyle or unhealthy habits. On the other hand, there are also such diseases that are inherited, and one of these diseases is sickle cell.

What Is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell disease, or SCD, is a red blood cell disorder that is passed on from parents to children. This red blood cell is identified as sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. There are many people with abnormal hemoglobin such as hemoglobin S, but the most common type of SCD is hemoglobin SS or sickle-cell anemia.

Overview

Our body tissues require oxygen, and this is being supplied by our hemoglobin or red blood cells throughout our body. Since hemoglobin has a round shape, it becomes flexible enough to easily flow through blood vessels. It’s soft and elastic, so it can fit freely flow along with other red blood cells.

Meanwhile, sickle cell has a sickle shape similar with that of a leech. Inside the sickle cell, there are strands that form such a shape, and these stands are hard. As a result, sickle cells don’t easily flow through blood vessels. Instead, they stick to the wall and block the blood vessel. Because of this, the supply of oxygen to our tissues are slowed down or even blocked completely.

When your body tissues don’t have enough supply of oxygen, you may suffer from severe pain crises. Such pain comes without early signs or warning, and this usually ends up being sent to the hospital for immediate treatment. In some cases, it can also harm or damage organs such as lungs, heart, brain, kidneys, and liver.

Causes

SCD is only inherited from a parent as it’s not contagious nor developed overtime. Nevertheless, the probability of inheriting sickle cell disease is low because even if your parent has SCD doesn’t necessarily mean you have also inherited it. There are factors that affect the transfer of SCD such as another parent’s condition. This means that both parents should have SCD in order to pass it on to their children. If only one of the parents has SCD, the disease will not be passed down.

Symptoms

There are different symptoms of sickle cell disease, and they vary from one patient to another depending on health condition. Nonetheless, these are some common symptoms you should observe:

  • Eye Problems
  • Slow Growth
  • Infections
  • Swelling
  • Pain

Swelling takes place in hands and feet; however, chronic pain is usually experienced by young adults who have SCD. If not managed properly, it may lead to bone damage and ulcers. Meanwhile, vision problems happen when eyes have the lack the supply of blood as a result of sickle cell blockage.

When You Should See a Doctor

Symptoms may be a false sign or just a sign of another different disease. It’s difficult to predict until you see a doctor. Visit a doctor if you see and experience the following signs:

  • Yellow Skin
  • Frequent Fever
  • Abnormal Swelling
  • Episodes of Pain

Treatment

The only cure for SCD is stem-cell transplant or bone marrow transplant. However, it has a lot of challenges to do so. Aside from the fact that it is difficult to find a donor, only those who are16 years old or below are able to undergo such an operation. Moreover, the operation is risky, and it sometimes leads to death. Nevertheless, antibiotics are administered to cure the crises or pain.

 

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Understanding Sickle cell

Microscopic view of sicke cells causing anemia disease.

Image is from guardian.ng

There are many kinds of diseases that are associated with blood. Some are contagious diseases. Others are developed within the body because of lifestyle or unhealthy habits. On the other hand, there are also such diseases that are inherited, and one of these diseases is sickle cell.

What Is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell disease or SCD is a red blood cell disorder that is passed on from parents to children. This red blood cell is identified as sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. There are many people with abnormal hemoglobin such as hemoglobin S, but the most common type of SCD is hemoglobin SS or sickle-cell anemia.

Overview

Our body tissues require oxygen, and this is being supplied by our hemoglobin or red blood cells throughout our body. Since hemoglobin has a round shape, it becomes flexible enough to easily flow through blood vessels. It’s soft and elastic, so it can fit freely flow along with other red blood cells.

Meanwhile, sickle cell has a sickle shape similar with that of a leech. Inside the sickle cell, there are strands that form such a shape, and these stands are hard. As a result, sickle cells don’t easily flow through blood vessels. Instead, they stick to the wall and block the blood vessel. Because of this, the supply of oxygen to our tissues are slowed down or even blocked completely.

When your body tissues don’t have enough supply of oxygen, you may suffer from severe pain crises. Such pain comes without early signs or warning, and this usually ends up being sent to the hospital for immediate treatment. In some cases, it can also harm or damage organs such as lungs, heart, brain, kidneys, and liver.

Causes

SCD is only inherited from a parent as it’s not contagious nor developed overtime. Nevertheless, the probability of inheriting sickle cell disease is low because even if your parent has SCD doesn’t necessarily mean you have also inherited it. There are factors that affect the transfer of SCD such as another parent’s condition. This means that both parents should have SCD in order to pass it on to their children. If only one of the parents has SCD, the disease will not be passed down.

Symptoms

There are different symptoms of sickle cell disease, and they vary from one patient to another depending on health condition. Nonetheless, these are some common symptoms you should observe:

  • Eye Problems
  • Slow Growth
  • Infections
  • Swelling
  • Pain

Swelling takes place in hands and feet; however, chronic pain is usually experienced by young adults who have SCD. If not managed properly, it may lead to bone damage and ulcers. Meanwhile, vision problems happen when eyes have the lack the supply of blood as a result of sickle cell blockage.

When You Should See a Doctor

Symptoms may be a false sign or just a sign of another different disease. It’s difficult to predict until you see a doctor. Visit a doctor if you see and experience the following signs:

  • Yellow Skin
  • Frequent Fever
  • Abnormal Swelling
  • Episodes of Pain

Treatment

The only cure for SCD is stem-cell transplant or bone marrow transplant. However, it has a lot of challenges to do so. Aside from the fact that it is difficult to find a donor, only those who are16 years old or below are able to undergo such an operation. Moreover, the operation is risky, and it sometimes leads to death. Nevertheless, antibiotics are administered to cure the crises or pain.

 

 

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Uses / Impacts of Cord Blood

CBAM_Blog_806x600

Image is from www.cordblood.com

You’ve likely heard about stem cells, given the contentious debate regarding its usage. What cannot be denied, however, is that it is immensely useful in the treatment of more than 80 different serious diseases. In a time when general medicine still struggles to keep pace with the growing numbers of cancer patients and people with immunodeficiency disorders, cord blood has proven to be a viable alternative in clinical trials.

What, Exactly, Is Cord Blood

Cord blood refers to blood from the umbilical cord of a baby. These early cells have very special properties that are absent in adult cells: they can self-renew and self-repair. Given that a majority of diseases are actually affectations on the cellular level, this property of self-repair is hugely beneficial in the treatment of such ailments.

The current status of cord blood treatment is that they are largely relegated to research laboratories and clinical trials. The hope – which has been realized with varying degrees of success already – is that cord blood will prove essential in the development of therapies for some major illnesses.

What Is the Record of Application and Success So Far?

In the past 2.5 decades, the stem cells from cord blood have been used to treat 80+ diseases and medical conditions. Many of these issues have no other current treatment, and include such debilitating conditions such as cerebral palsy, leukemia and neuroblastoma. To date, the 30,000 – and counting – cord blood transplants have been approved to treat:

  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – which is a specific type of cancer that originates in the bloodstream and adversely affects the lymph nodes
  • A cluster of disorders that target the metabolic system as well as the contribute to immunodeficiencies; such as Hunter syndrome, Osteopetrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia and Lesch Nyhan syndrome
  • Neuroblastoma, Medulloblastoma and other malignant tumors such as Retinoblastoma
  • Cancers that target the blood immune system – such as Leukemia, which is responsible for nearly 60,000 deaths per day as of 2017. Stem cells from cord blood have proved useful in treating all forms and stages of leukemia and related blood cancers

The Next Stage of Cord Blood Usage

The dozens of trials in process all around the world continue to produce very positive results; in fact, the approval of each new one is contingent on the success of the previous phases. In particular, many of the newer illnesses that the recuperative powers of stem cells from cord blood endow include:

  • Lupus
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Graft vs Host Disease
  • Multiple types of encephalopathy

Trial after trial has shown that patients who undergo cord blood therapy, and combine this treatment with regularly scheduled health check-ups and good diets show a markedly improved quality of life.

The Method of Treatment

The method of treatment is simply the normal blood transfusion; except using cord blood. The self-repairing stem cells contained therein progress through the patient’s blood stream, and perform their healing touch, so to speak, on the tissue and cells with which they come into contact. The overall effect of this is to essentially create a new, well-functioning immune system capable of warding off immune-related illnesses the same way a healthy person’s system does.

The cord blood that you, for example, would use, will be taken from either your child or a sibling. The recommended person is actually up to the specific type of disease, and your physician’s analysis. For example, cancers are best treated (usually) using cord blood from your baby; whereas inherited genetic diseases employ a sibling’s cord blood.

 

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Understanding Cord Blood

Cord-Blood-Aware-Fanconi-Anaemia1

Image is from www.cordbloodaware.com

If you are expecting a baby, you must have heard about cord blood and how it can help make your child’s life easier. You might be thinking about what cord blood is and what all the fuss is about. Parents do different things to enhance the safety of their child or children. Cord blood banking is one of those things.

Cord blood is blood in a newborn baby’s umbilical cord. The blood contains young stem cells that become specialized after regeneration. The cord blood stem cells have been used in the treatment of different infections and proven to be effective in replacing children’s damaged blood cells with healthy ones and most importantly boosting their immune system.

To improve medical treatment, cord blood banking has become a medical norm. Cord blood banking is the process of collecting and storing cord blood stem cells for future medical use.

Why cord blood is special

Cord blood is special since it is not like any other kind of blood. Cord blood contains young stem cells. Stem cells are important in treatment since it gives the body the ability to regenerate and make new cells that will replace damaged ones. Cord blood can be used to treat different medical conditions in clinical trials that were once considered untreatable.

Benefits of cord blood

Cord blood has many benefits including:

  • The special blood in the umbilical cord is rich in stem cells that can get renewed and turn into other cells. These cells can be injected into other children to treat certain diseases like leukemia, sickle cell anemia, and others. The stem cells can replenish their blood supply and turn into new, healthy cells.
  • The stem cells present in cord blood can be used to help the body recover from chemotherapy or radiation that takes its toll on the body.
  • Cord blood stem cells are less mature compared to bone marrow cells. The patient is less likely to reject cord blood that is a risk when going for a bone marrow transplant.
  • The process of taking cord blood is not painful or invasive.
  • Cord blood banking comes in handy if there are siblings suffering from blood disorders. It can be used to treat them.

Cord blood banking

Cord blood banking is the process where cord blood is taken and stored for future use. The blood is stored in a special blood bank. The blood is kept in a special blood bank since unlike normal blood, it has stem cells that can regenerate and become specialized. Cord blood banking provides a way you can save beneficial blood that is normally thrown away after childbirth.

Downsides of cord blood banking

  • While parents can be encouraged to consider cord blood banking, it is not certain that they will use the blood.
  • If the child develops a genetic disorder, the blood cannot be used in treatment since it contains the same genetic flaws that brought the disorder.
  • As much as the chances of rejection are low and it reduces the risk of getting a rejection, sometimes using your blood in your treatment is not the best thing. Some genetic flaws might make it better to use a donor’s blood as it is better equipped to fight the condition.
  • Cod blood treatment is mainly used in children’s treatment since it does not have enough cells to be used in adults.

Cord blood is useful because of the stem cells. However, go through all the facts before deciding if this form of medical insurance is useful for you.

 

 

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