Niece's cells could save Dad

Published 6:52 am Monday, January 16, 2006

By Staff
I was reading this week that Taiwan had successfully bred fluorescent green pigs for stem cell research.
The purpose of the green protein injected into the pig is to allow researchers to monitor and trace changes of the tissues during physical development.
The news article made me think to about four years ago when my niece was born, and how far stem cell research has progressed. My father had been diagnosed with leukemia prior to her birth. Cord blood is an alternative source of stem cells used for re-population of the patient's bone marrow after chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
This means that some day my father might be able to use my niece's cord blood in case complications from his disease called for it.
Research has proven that umbilical cords are a rich, non-controversial source of stem cells. Each year, hospitals throw millions of them away because the infrastructure required to properly collect and store them is not available.
In December of 2005, President Bush signed the umbilical cord adult stem cell research bill. This would provide $79 million in federal funding for the collection and storage of umbilical cord blood. It would provide a total of $265 million for life-saving stem cell therapeutic therapy, cord blood and bone marrow treatment.
Sadly, this type of research has gone virtually unnoticed. It is not terribly expensive – I believe she pays a one year fee of $75 for storage – and it is not harmful to the child.
There are actually two ways the blood can be collected – after the baby is delivered, cord blood can be collected when the placenta is still in-utero, or after the baby is delivered and the placenta detaches from the utero. Both ways are harmless to the child and to the mother.
The cells are taken immediately after birth by a cord partner specialist.
Stem cell research has long been the focus of public debate among pro-life groups who oppose the methods. Many uneducated people believe that funding of new embryonic stem cell research destroys human life and could destroy human embryos at fertility clinics.
But, many people are beginning to educate themselves, and the numbers prove that. The number of parents banking their child's umbilical cord blood is doubling each year. Now, the idea is to get it out into the open so we can begin saving lives. The research proves it already.
Research has found that cord blood is known to treat numerous diseases, including acute leukemias, autoimmune diseases, stem cell disorders and more.
Mary-Allison Lancaster is the Managing editor of the Brewton Standard. She can be reached via e-mail at

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