Transplantation with stem cells from the umbilical cord is a treatment option for patients for whom we cannot find a suitable bone marrow donor.
In Denmark, approx. 20% of patients referred for allogeneic bone marrow transplantation never get the transplant.
One of the reasons is that it can be difficult to find a donor with the right tissue type match. It is especially a problem for patients of mixed ethnicity and here a transplant with stem cells from the umbilical cord may be their only salvation.
Stem cells from the umbilical cord are easier to match
Umbilical cord blood has a different composition than ordinary bone marrow cells. This means that a full tissue type match is not necessary for the transplant to work, and there is less risk of serious side effects, even if the donor and patient have different tissue types. Therefore, there is a higher success rate with transplantations with stem cells from the umbilical cord.
Stem cells from the umbilical cord may be purchased abroad
It is crucial for umbilical cord stem cell transplants that enough umbilical cord blood cells are given, therefore we use blood cells from 2 donors for adult patients. Umbilical cord donors are registered and their donor cells are frozen in stem cell banks (UCB banks). There is no UCB bank in Denmark, so we buy umbilical cord cells from banks abroad.
It is a good investment in the family to collect the children’s stem cells at birth
Read here why it is a good idea to collect and store stem cells from the unborn baby’s umbilical cord. There are many benefits to this.
Read the whole article about Rigshospitalet’s lack of stem cell donors and how they ultimately often have to resort to transplantation with stem cells from the umbilical cord.