Should Cord Blood (Stem Cell) Be Stored?
Due to its rich content of stem cells, the storage of cord blood was first introduced in the United States in the 1980s. Towards the end of the 1990s, many private banks began to be established. In our country, such a trend was experienced in the early 2000s. Storage of cord blood has become widely recommended. In 2005, the Turkish Society of Hematology recommended that the storage of cord blood in private banks should not be encouraged through newspaper advertisements. After that, the number of cord blood storage began to decrease and the number of banks began to decrease. Hematologists think that the possibility of using these stored blood is very low, and banks open to common use should be established.
There are 2 ways of storing cord blood. The first is that it is kept in private banks only to be used when that person needs it in the future. This is called autologous use. They are naturally commercial institutions. The family pays a certain fee. It is estimated that around 500,000 cord blood has been stored in this way to date. The number of cases reported to have been used for blood cancer is only 1. This blood could also be obtained from a partner bank. In this case, the storage of cord blood in particular is too commercial. Continuing to keep that blood while it is necessary for someone else is also criticized morally.
In the second type of bank, blood is stored in public institutions on behalf of the public. They are banks for allogeneic purposes, blood can be given to any of the public when necessary. Many countries and associations around the world encourage the storage of cord blood in public banks, not private banks. There is no such bank in our country yet.
On the other hand, studies on stem cells continue all over the world and promising results are obtained in many diseases. Stem cells can transform into tissues with different characteristics and can heal some damaged organs in the body. It is claimed that it can be used in many diseases. Among them, proven ones are some types of blood cancer and bone marrow failure. Its usefulness in the treatment of cerebral palsy (Spastic children) and juvenile diabetes is evident enough to do human studies in the USA. However, definitive results have not yet been published.
So, should we continue to store cord blood in this case? The uncertainty on this issue continues to confuse couples who are about to give birth. The same goes for doctors. The available data are insufficient to recommend its retention. However, hopes for the future are neither high nor unfounded. Therefore, we cannot say that it is completely meaningless to hide it.
As a result, we doctors have to give accurate information to our patients. According to today’s data, a baby’s stored cord blood is less likely to be used in the future. However, with rapidly developing technology, we do not know what will happen in the future. Couples should decide by knowing these.