Stem Cells : Preserve Please
Hello Readers. This is neither a medical blog nor a usual casual one instead an awareness one. I am very happy to have chosen this topic as this is a ‘must know’ one for everyone and I have tried my best to draft this interestingly.
Many of us would have heard the word stem cells quite a lot of times but a very few of us know what it is and its importance. Medically, Stem cells are the most powerful cells that has an extraordinary ability to become any cell of human body. Superficially, they are the iron man of the avengers assemble. In layman terms these cells are life savers
I was watching one of the episodes of TV series 24 where the protagonist Jack Bauer gets exposed to some radioactive rays. Unable to treat him with any medicine, the doctors gave him an option to use the stem cells of his daughter for which he refuses but his daughter takes charge and generously give away her cells to her dad. Jack recovers. I was confused when seeing this scene as I couldn’t understand the concept of stem cells. But now I am fully aware and I wanted to share the same with you.
A doctor comes and say that patient X (whom you know very close) is suffering from cancer but a full recovery is possible if his / her stem cell is available or any others’ stem cell matching the pattern of X is available. What will be your immediate reaction? Bit relieved and you will start to lookout for the patient’s own stem cell or any donor. If available, patient X will have to undergo a stem cell treatment and there is huge chance of a full recovery. What if the stem cell is not preserved? It’s a missed opportunity.
Stem cells are present in human adults in spine and so it is extremely difficult to extract them out as it might endanger the life of that adult. The next rich source of stem cells is cord blood (blood present in the umbilical cord that connects the baby and mom). The irony is the fact that this piece of umbilical cord is usually thrown away.
That is why a lot of private cord blood banks have come now who own medically sophisticated devices that separate stem cells in cord blood from RBC and WBC. Also these banks own state of art labs to store stem cells.
The only thing we have to do is to call them at the time of your kid’s delivery. They will come and collect the cord blood, process them and store the stem cells in their labs for the baby’s lifetime for a cost. This can be used to treat any life threatening ailment of the baby similar to patient X if the baby gets affected by one.
Not only the baby but also the sibling or parents of the baby or any other person who matches the pattern of this baby’s stem cell may use the same under rare scenarios.
In developed countries this act of preserving stem cells is a must but the awareness is very less in India . So please preserve the cord blood which might be a life saver.