How Safe is Umbilical Cord Blood Transplant?




Cancer, which was supposed to be an incurable disease, can now be cured if detected at the right time. The rapid advancement in Science and Medicine has opened wide vistas before us for the treatment of life threatening diseases including AIDS, Neurotic diseases and Genetic disorders. In many situations your doctor might suggest a Stem Cell transplant or a Bone marrow transplant as the possible solution for your disease. In this case a cord blood transplant may be a good option.

These stem cells are the blood forming cells of human body and are widely being used in transplants. These cells help in the production of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Earlier there were only 2 reliable supplies of Stem Cells: Bone Marrow and peripheral Blood. But recently it has been found that Umbilical Cord Blood is also good and high source of stem cells. The waste cord and the blood contained in it were usually discarded after the birth of the baby but now it has been discovered that this cord blood is an extremely high source of stem cells which can be freely used in transplants.

During last ten years, over 4000 umbilical cord blood transplants (UCBT) have been performed worldwide. The interest in this mode of transplant has grown drastically, as this provides easy access to an different for treating cancer and serious diseases. The first cord blood transplant was done in 1988 on a young cancer patient. Seeing the tremendous success of this experiment, it became a regular practice with many doctors to recommend UCBT as the solution for the treatment of a disease.

however there are some critics of UCBT who think that many complications can arise after a transplant. One of the shared problems that can crop up after an Allogenic Transplant (Stem cells retrieved from cord blood of an outside donor ) is Graft Versus great number Disease or commonly known as (GVHD). The consequences of GVHD can range from mild to harsh and sometimes terminating. That is why there are chances that the doctor might not approve of Cord Blood transplant.

The Reasons for Disapproval are: Many times there may not be enough blood-forming cells in the cord blood as one needs a required number of Stem Cells for a successful transplant. Secondly cord blood cells take longer to grow and produce new blood cells and till the cells engraft, the patient is at a high risk for infection. Thirdly there is no scope of getting backup cells from the same cord blood unit. However, doctors may be able to use a different cord blood unit or a backup adult donor instead.

A Cord blood transplants is as dicey as a Bone marrow or peripheral blood transplant. The risk of infection may be higher after a cord blood transplant because of the longer time to engraft. The chances of developing GVHD is however low, but the risk is nevertheless there. As every patient’s Case History is different from others, if you are considering UCBT for the cure of some problem do consult the experts in this field before taking a decision.




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