If you are considering banking your baby’s cord blood to help other people, it might interest you to know that cord blood transplantation is used for even the tiniest of patients.
At the inception of the ultrasound scan, many people were opposed to them for ethical reasons. If a disability was found on the scan, the parents would be given the option to terminate the pregnancy, a choice which is steeped in controversy.
Science, however, has moved on. Scans are no longer about abortion. They can detect life threatening conditions in the fetus and provide the hope of treatment given while the developing baby is still in the womb. Unborn babies can have blood transfusions and can even be operated on. A child with spina bifida can have his spinal opening closed before he is even born, giving him the chance to walk and lead a normal life. Scans can now be about saving his life, rather than taking it.
In addition to diagnostic imaging, there have been huge advances in stem cell therapy and now the two areas have combined to form in utero stem cell transplantation. Your baby’s cord blood can be used to help another baby while he is still growing in the womb.
How is in utero stem cell transplantation performed?
If in an advanced stage the fetus is given anaesthetic so that it doesn’t feel pain. Then a transfusion needle is introduced through the mother’s abdomen and stem cells are injected into the foetuses peritoneum (the lining of his abdominal cavity).
The technique has been successful at treating foetuses diagnosed with immune system disorders such as severe combined immune deficiency (SCID). There has been some evidence of success in treating blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, a type of anaemia got by people of Mediterranean descent.
Even muscular dystrophy has been treated using in utero stem cell transplantation.
According to the Journal of Physiology:
‘Fetal surgery was born of clinical necessity.