Could Cord Blood Stem Cells Have Helped In Aurora Colorado?
Many of the medical therapies we have today were virtually unthinkable a few decades ago. As we watched doctors on television shows, like Star Trek, wave electrical boxes over patients and pronounced them cured, did we ever think we would be implanting devices to treat seizures, Parkinson's disease, depression neuropathy and paralysis? In my office we use PDAs to program these devices in much the same way that “Dr. McCoy” treated his patients on T.V. I mention this because I think cord blood stem cells may well be used as a first line emergency therapy for traumatic injuries that occur in serious motor vehicle accidents and mass casualty events, such as we recently witnessed when a gunman shot almost seventy people in a movie theatre.
This is all theory at this point. Perhaps closer to Dr. McCoy’s brand of medicine than anything Dr. Liss can currently prescribe. However, when thinking about advances in cord blood research, made possible by cord blood banking and stem cell therapy, I can foresee the day when cord blood stem cells may make the impossible, possible. As I mentioned in a recent blog, it appears that cord blood stem cells not only work to regrow damaged tissue, but they also appear to favorably modulate the body’s immune system. Stem cell research into cerebral palsy is very likely a good example of this phenomenon.
When a person is shot in the head or damages the spinal cord in an automobile accident, the initial damage appears to be worsened significantly by the body’s immune response to the injury. Because it appears that the infusion of a person’s own cord blood stem cells seems to blunt this “friendly fire”, the more quickly an infusion occurs, the more likely the victim will recover. It appears that cord blood stem cells reduces damaging inflammation and sends helpful cells to the site of the injury.
The use of cord blood stem cells within a day or two of injury is not currently possible for most people, because most expectant parents are not storing their newborns cord blood. Until the day comes when it is expected that cord blood be stored, health care providers will not be assessing “seventy gunshot victims” for possible infusion. Although cord blood stem cell therapy occurs daily across the nation, it is still for the most part an afterthought. This however does not mean that we won’t be using stem cell therapy for traumatic injuries in the future. It only means that it is going to take a lengthy amount of time to make this possible and more research to make certain that it is scientifically sound. For now, it is a little bit like watching Dr. McCoy again.
As it stands, couples planning on a homebirth scarcely consider cord blood banking. Only a small percentage of the general population of expectant parents have an obstetrician who is both interested in discussing the topic and knowledgeable on the subject. For this reason, less than five percent of newborns have their cord blood banked. An even smaller percentage donates their cord blood.
The present use of cord blood is bright and the future is even brighter. Homebirth parents need to know that cord blood can still be banked. Every expectant parent, including homebirth parents, needs to get cord blood facts. After doing so, it is important to do a cord blood banking cost comparison and to do a cord blood banking comparison. It is easy to answer the questions: “Why store cord blood” and “Is cord blood banking worth it?” It isn’t easy to answer the question: “Why didn’t I look more closely at cord blood banking when I had the chance”, when you are staring at an ill child.