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Cord Blood Transplants

If you, or a loved one is in need of a bone marrow or cord blood transplant, but immediate family cannot provide a good match, doctors have the option of searching the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) registry for an allogeneic transplant (donation outside family)

Patients needing bone marrow or cord blood transplants often turn to family members in hopes of a perfect match. However, 70-75% of them fail to find a suitable match within their own gene pool.

If a suitable donor is not found, doctors are able to search the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) for allogeneic matches (stem cells donated outside of the family). With nearly 7 million potential donors, and 70,000 units of cord blood available, the chances are greater of finding a near perfect match for those seeking treatment or transplants.

For a successful transplant, the process is relatively complex, but the basics of the process involve typing the blood. Human leukocyte antigens (HLA) are markers (actually proteins) that are found in the body's cell. If the markers of a transplant do not match, your body's immune system would consider them foreign, and start destroying the transplanted cells. In other words, the transplant would be rejected, creating bigger problems for the patient. The greater number of protein matches between patient and donor, the greater the chance of success.

Another factor involves the number of cells being transplanted. Children have a greater chance of success, because they do not require the larger amounts of stem cells. Doctors are researching ways and ideas (such as trying to use two or three units of cord blood, or possibly growing new cells from a single unit in the laboratory prior to transfusion) in which to create better options for adults need stem cell transfusions.

It is important to understand that some types of blood are more common than others, so finding the right match may take some time. Doctors and NMDP will work together to locate possible matches across the globe, but understanding that protein markers are inherited, some matches may be more difficult to locate than others.

Once a match is made, many factors are considered, such as age of the donor, their sex, medical conditions, blood type, and other things. The urgency of the required transplant will also play a factor in this process.

Understanding the cord blood transplant process, the factors involved, and the immediate need of the patient are all important for the patient and their family. However, a family can rest assured that doctors, and those at the NMDP are fervently seeking the best possible matches, so that care of the patient can be focused on during this process.

Source by Melvin Ngiam

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