In celebration and support of Stem Cell Awareness Day on 12 October, Cryo-Save South Africa has listed the top 10 most noteworthy facts about stem cells that you need to know.
Stem cells are your body’s internal repair system
Stem cells continuously replace dead or diseased cells with healthy ones to maintain a normal functioning body.
Best time to collect stem cells is at birth
Stem cells age as we age, so the best time to collect blood stem cells is at birth. These cells have not been exposed to pollution and poor lifestyle choices and can therefore offer greater therapeutic possibilities and better transplant outcomes.
Stem cells from umbilical cord blood don’t need to be a 100% match for transplants
Although your baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells are a 100% perfect match for her own use, there is a 25% probability for a 100% match for siblings. However, unlike bone marrow transplants, you often don’t need a 100% match using cord blood stem cells, which means the probability of finding a suitable donor is so much greater.
Stem cell storage is not that costly
Stem cell storage is available to anyone who wishes to store their baby’s umbilical cord stem cells. Cryo-Save offers multiple cost options and interest-free payment plans from as little as R273.00 per month to store cord blood and R350.00 per month for storing both cord blood and tissue.
Mixed ethnicity parents should store stem cells
The chances of finding a perfect matching blood stem cell donor for an allogeneic (matching donor) transplant are only 1 in 100 000, but the odds are much lower for anyone from a mixed-race family
Despite its diverse ethnic make-up, Africa has no public cord blood stem cell bank, which makes the likelihood of finding a matching donor even more challenging.
Banking stem cells is not just for families with a history of cancer
Many people don’t realise that stem cells now play a part in the treatment of over 80 blood diseases and conditions.
Some of the most promising research is being done to use children’s’ own umbilical cord blood stem cells in the treatment of cerebral palsy and autism. Additionally, statistics show that more than 90% of cancers develop due to lifestyle factors, not genetics, and that the incidence of cancer is increasing.
Stem cell collection is a safe medical procedure
Collecting stem cells from an umbilical cord is quick, painless and non-invasive, posing no medical risk to mother or baby. It is only after the clamping that the blood and tissue are collected from the umbilical cord for stem cell processing.
Stem cell banking is possible with any type of birth
Cord blood and cord tissue collections can be performed at both vaginal and caesarean deliveries. Immediately following the birth, but before the placenta is delivered, the healthcare provider collects the cord blood from the baby’s umbilical cord.
You can store your second child’s stem cells if you didn’t store for your first child
Today, umbilical cord stem cells are used in more than a third of blood stem cell transplants around the world. Siblings have a 25% chance of being a perfect match. But because cord blood stem cells do not require a perfect match for transplant, the likelihood that siblings will be a match is much higher. Therefore, storing your second child’s stem cells has the possibility, depending on the degree of matching, to treat your first child should a stem cell transplant be required and may also be used for other immediate family members.
Stem cell storage is available in South Africa
Cryo-Save has been storing umbilical cord stem cells for families all over the world since 2000. They offer both local and international storage options in either Pretoria or Europe for both cord blood and cord tissue.