Here's what it's all about.
Before giving birth, many women look into the what can be done with parts of the birthing process, such as the placenta and umbilical cord, after the baby arrives.
Vogue Williams took to her Instagram Stories recently to chat about donating her umbilical cord to use for stem cells:
In the post, Vogue asked her followers if anyone had done it, and shared a message she got from a doctor in a leukaemia unit in the UK which said:
A lot of our patients receive stem cell transplants to help cure their conditions. Umbilical cord cells can be used as stem cell transplants and can quite literally save someone’s life!
So what exactly does it mean to donate your umbilical cord for stem cell transplants?
Throughout your pregnancy, your umbilical cord nurtures life. It’s constantly working, giving your baby oxygen-rich cells and nutrients and taking away nutrient-depleted blood.
This means the umbilical cord is a rich source of two main types of stem cells: cord blood stem cells and cord tissue stem cells. These cells are similar to those found in bone marrow and are used to generate red blood cells and cells of the immune system.
Stem cells have the ability to divide and renew themselves and are capable turning into specific types of specialised cells – like blood or nerve.
These cord blood stem cells that are found in umbilical cords are currently used to treat a range of blood disorders and immune system conditions such as leukaemia, anaemia and autoimmune diseases.
How does the process work?
During birth, a sample from the umbilical cord blood would be collected by a healthcare professional – to do this, the umbilical cord has to be clamped straight away.
Are stem cell transplants used in Ireland?
Umbilical cord donation has not arrived in Ireland yet, but stem cells are used in medical treatments and procedures here.
Medica Clinic is the first clinic in Ireland that specialises in adult stem cell treatments. Only adult stem cells harvested from the patient themselves are used for the treatments that the clinic offers, such as procedures for hair loss, sports injuries, arthritis or skin conditions.
The Stem Cell Transplantation (SCT) Service in St. James’s Hospital has performed more than 1000 stem cell and bone marrow transplants for people with cancer and other serious illnesses.
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