Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Curing Blood Diseases: How Cord Blood Saves Lives

Curing Blood Diseases: How Cord Blood Saves Lives

Aired on Lifetime Television, April 27 and June 8, 2008, Show 510

Eight-year-old Joseph Davis Jr. is a healthy boy – but at birth he was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, a chronic blood disorder that deprives cells of proper oxygen, causes periodic painful episodes and reduces life expectancy. Only a bone marrow transplant could help him. Every day, thousands of people with a blood disease search the registry for life-saving bone marrow and cord blood donors because they can't find a match within their families. The Davises also discovered there was a shortage of African-American donors who might provide a match of bone marrow or cord blood.

Cord blood comes from a newborn's umbilical cord or placenta and contains a high concentration of the hematopoietic stem cells that can help generate new, healthy cells in transplant recipients. The search dragged on for over a year to find a matching donor.

Then, a miracle happened: Joseph's mom, previously told she could not have more children, became pregnant. The remarkable result? Not only a new life in the form of a second son, but the stem cells from his umbilical cord turned out to be a match for Joseph, eventually curing him of sickle cell and giving him a healthy life. Doctors – and the Davises – highly recommend that the time of birth, a child's cord blood is saved and frozen, just in case it can be used for life-saving transplants in the future.

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