Brandyn Orr, 12, of Mesa was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 2 years old and relapsed when he was 6. He was treated with an umbilical cord blood transplant using the blood collected during the birth of his brother Devyn, 7.

Also known as “placental blood,” cord blood is what remains in the umbilical cord and placenta after a women gives birth and the cord is cut. The blood is rich in stem cells, which have the ability to develop into many different kinds of cells.

It’s been used to regenerate blood and immune cells after chemotherapy and to treat blood disorders. Scientists and doctors also believe they may be able to generate human tissue and organs from the cells.

The first cord-blood transplant was done in 1988, and since then hundreds of Americans have received cord-blood transplants, either from private stores or from a public bank. But unless there is a blood disorder or cancer in your family, it may come as news that there is anything to do with the umbilical cord other than to tie it into a bellybutton, clip off the excess and throw it away.

With more research being done into the potential for the stem cell-rich umbilical cord, and with more legislation being debated about the subject, it is likely you will be hearing more about saving cord blood for the future.


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