Though the idea may seem strange at first if you are unfamiliar with the most recent developments, your baby actually has a lot to offer the world in terms of medical donations. As soon as they are born, a newborn child’s umbilical cord contains valuable stem cells that can help treat family members or complete strangers with illnesses and diseases. Blood, bone marrow, and even baby teeth have proven useful in saving the lives of others.
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Don’t Toss the Cord
One of the most common donations from babies practiced in today’s hospitals comes from the umbilical cord. Modern scientific developments have completely discarded generations of what seemed like conventional wisdom at the time: that the umbilical cord is nothing more than medical waste and may be disposed after birth. This is simply not the case.
A brief procedure may now be performed that preserves umbilical cells for later use. Countless parents have the procedure done for their children. They store the cells in private banks in the hopes that down the road the cells may be of use to their children should they develop a disease and need healthy cells.
Doctors agree, however, the odds are slim that a child’s own umbilical cord cells will be of much use to them. If they do unfortunately develop a disease, such as leukemia, the preserved cells will in all likelihood contain the same problematic genetics that caused the disease in the first place.
Who Can Use My Baby’s Cells?
Instead, the cells may be of great help to a relative, particularly any siblings your child has or may have one day. Even this, however, is not a guarantee and medical professionals recommend that parents consider donating to a public bank as opposed to a private one.
One upside to using a public bank is that they are free (as opposed to private banks which can be costly to preserve and store cells in). Additionally, there is a strong chance that those cells will still be available and untouched should your child or your loved one ever need them. And if a relative ever does need healthy cells in the future, your child’s bone marrow is always available and serves much the same purpose.
Whatever you choose to do – store the cells in a private bank or a public bank – there are countless hospitals and other facilities that can help.
How Do These Cells Help?
Umbilical cells contain mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that have the ability to regenerate damaged or diseased cells. Umbilical cord blood contains hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that have proven successful in building all sorts of other cells that can help treat recipients.
When these stem cells are captured at such an early moment (i.e., right after birth), before your child’s immune system has fully developed and become strong, they are far more likely to work. They pose less of a threat to the recipient’s body. In other words, these “immature” cells are more likely to get along with other cells later on.
Donating Baby Teeth?
Again, this may seem strange, but it’s true! Your child’s baby teeth can be saved and used later to help treat others for a myriad of conditions, including diabetes. The stem cells a child’s tooth contains can be extracted and preserved just as umbilical cells are.
Just remember that there is a limited amount of time after your child loses their tooth until it is no longer valuable. Be sure to donate the tooth within forty-eight hours of being cut off from its blood supply or the precious genetic material it contains will no longer be of value. The cells need to be alive when they are frozen in order to work.
Endless Possibilities on the Horizon
What makes these procedures so exciting is that all the major developments in stem cell donations have occurred relatively recently. Each year scientists discover new uses for stem cells. These cells will only become more and more useful as our medical knowledge advances and deepens, so you should store those invaluable, miraculous cells now. There is no telling how important they may be or whose life they may save.