On Thursday, a friend of mine shared a news on our watsapp group. She said a niece of a friend need blood type A+ for her leukemia treatment. The girl Raja Nur Kamilia bt Raja Syahrul, 12 years old with Leukemia needs white cells from male with blood type A+ donors. Knowing that hubward is blood type A (not sure + or -), I immediately bbm him to tell him about the girl and encouraged him to donate. If he agrees, we will have to be at PPUM by 8pm that nite and he agreed. We can never know when is our turn and if we can help in any way, we help. Actually, male with blood type O+ can also donate. The doctor opt for male because male has bigger vein and the transfusion of the white blood cells will take 3 hours for each person.
What is Leukemia?
It is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called "blasts". Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases. In turn, it is part of the even broader group of diseases affecting the blood, bone marrow, and lymphoid system, which are all known as hematological neoplasms.
In 2000, approximately 256,000 children and adults around the world developed some form of leukemia, and 209,000 died from it.About 90% of all leukemia are diagnosed in adults.
You can read HERE for more information.
Kamilia was diagnosed December last year (2011) with the cancer and doctor has given her treatment to kill the cancer including chemotherapy. The bad side of chemo is, it will kill all cells without being biased. So, it kill bad and good cells. In Kamilia case, her White Blood Cells were badly damaged which are very important for her to recover back to normal.
What is White Blood Cells?
They are cells of the immune system involved in defending the body against both infectious disease and foreign materials. Five different and diverse types of leukocytes exist, but they are all produced and derived from a multipotent cell in the bone marrow known as a hematopoietic stem cell. They live for about 3 to 4 days in the average human body. Leukocytes are found throughout the body, including the blood and lymphatic system.
You can read HERE for more information.
At first, Kamilia was doing well, but due to superbly low White Blood Cells in her blood, bacteria starts to attack her lungs, later her liver and then her kidney. Now, she is on life support. So, the doctor decides to do an alternative treatment for her. They will need to inject white blood cells received from donors of the same blood type into her blood stream until she can start to generate her own white blood cells. The first time they did it, they used her dad's blood and the reading went higher than they anticipated and that's why they need more donors as the dad can't donate daily to ensure her reading keeps going up.
We are still waiting for my hubward's blood test result to confirm his blood type and also to ensure he is in perfect health to do the procedure.
So, what does this has anything to do with cord blood stem cells? Stem cells are cells found in the human body that have the unique ability to divide continuously, often throughout the life of a human. In fact, they are the “master” cells that will transform into cells that form the brain, nerves, muscles, and other body parts. Current stem cell research is generating strong evidences about how healthy stem cells, when under the right conditions or signals, can give rise to differentiated cells.
The easiest way to collect stem cells is via cord blood as it has the highest percentage of stem cells. Stem cells can also be collected from an adult blood but an adult will need to take some medication and the quantity might not be that high.
Umbilical cord blood, otherwise known simply as ‘cord blood’ or ‘placental blood’, is the blood that remains in the newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta following birth. In the past, cord blood was considered medical waste and if often discarded, although it is a rich and valuable source of stem cells. It provides a painless, safe and non-controversial means of acquiring stem cells that can be used to treat patients with rare blood disorders.
Cord blood stem cells, which are predominantly Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), are the key to building blocks of the human blood and immune system. In other words, HSCs have the potential to generate blood cells and cells of the human immune system. These cells are less prone to develop Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) because they are more primitive in nature, hence the chance for rejection is less compared to stem cells harvested from adults.
Stem cells that have been isolated from cord blood manually or by using AXP™ AutoXpress Platform are ultimately stored in a cryogenic preservation tank at -190º Celcius in vapour phase.
Why Store Cord Blood Stem Cells?Source: CyroCord
- Simple, quick and painless collection protocol that does not interfere nor complicates the delivery process.
- Generally preferred to adult peripheral blood transplantation due to lower likelihood of complication.
- No ethical controversies.
Stems cells is the most important cells to cure blood related disease and to boost back immune system after any heavy procedure/surgery such as chemotherapy for cancer. Please note that it is not used to cure the cancer but to help boost the good blood cells count in order for a person to fully recover. Like in Kamilia case for instance, if her parents stored her stem cells, she could have used it after the chemo and lower the risk of organs collapse due to bacteria infections which happens in most cancer patients case. They are free of cancer, but it is the after effect of chemo that kills them. However, Kamilia is not that lucky because such service is only offered in Malaysia (mainly in Klang Valley) only about 5 to 6 years back.
I strongly suggest future parents to store their new born cord blood stem cells because of it's benefit. This stem cells can be used by the child (owner- 100% match), it's siblings (75% match) and the parents (50% match) should anything happen. Close relative can also use it but they will need to check whether they match. It doesn't cost you much. One time processing fee as low as RM1800 with free 1st year storage (depends on which company you register) and yearly storage up to RM250 per year (paid yearly) for another 20 years. Your child will have his/her own option whether to continue to store after they reach 21 years old and pay on their own.
To me the amount is such a small investment if you think about what are the benefits. If you can invest in buying expensive toys, gadget like iPad for your child or splurge money on other things, why not spend on something that might help save your family precious life one day. Of course we pray for it not to happen but we can never know. We can't see the future..so lets prepare for it.
I am definitely getting a package for my baby. We just got to know my hubward's niece was diagnose with Thalassemia and if she is a match to our child, we might donate to her a portion. She is 3 years old and we are not even sure which of the parents is the carrier. See, we can never know when will it strike but at least we try to be prepared.