With the absolute bliss and gift of life that a newborn brings, imagine that we have an opportunity, right then, to safeguard her/his precious life with a potentially lifesaving resource that can be extended even to their siblings and other family members. The umbilical cord that connects an expectant mother to her in-utero baby, which was once considered medical waste upon birth, is now proving to be a life-saving resource.

What makes the blood left over in the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby is born so precious is that it contains blood stem cells — cells that can grow into any kind of blood cell in the human body, including the red blood cells that carry oxygen or white blood cells that form part of the immune system. Blood stem cells can be used in the treatment of various diseases, particularly those affecting the blood and immune system. Medical professionals have witnessed remarkable success stories where individuals, thanks to cord blood banking, have been able to undergo life-saving stem cell transplantations, demonstrating the immense potential and impact of this technology on healthcare outcomes.

"Over 40,000 life-saving transplants are conducted annually using blood stem cells," says Sarah Al-Hajali, CEO of CellSave Arabia, highlighting the tangible impact of cord blood in saving lives and reshaping the landscape of modern medicine. “Cord blood and cord tissue have emerged as beacons of hope in the realm of medical advancements and newborn stem cells stand at the forefront of innovative treatments for a spectrum of diseases and disorders,” she continues.

According to Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, as of 2021, over nine million cord blood units have been stored worldwide in public and private cord blood banks. These cells are considered safe in terms of immunological measures, making them an excellent match for transplantation. Because they can differentiate into various cell types, they offer great potential for regenerative therapies and treatment of various diseases, including leukemia, immune disorders, and certain genetic conditions.

Cord blood banking is a new and exciting field of regenerative medicine and is growing rapidly in recent years, with the UAE being a hotbed for stem cell research. With such a rich and diverse culture, it’s no wonder that cord blood banking is gaining popularity as an essential aspect of family healthcare planning with government approvals and regulations.

Educational initiatives and healthcare professionals are pivotal in disseminating information to expectant parents, highlighting the profound benefits of preserving cord blood stem cells. According to Sarah Al-Hajali, these are the reasons why expectant parents may want to consider this once-in-a-lifetime resource.

A beacon of hope

The ultimate possibility of saving the life of a loved one cannot be compared to anything else. The significance of cord blood lies in its repository of stem cells, which can differentiate into essential components like red blood cells, responsible for oxygen transport, and white blood cells, crucial for immune defense. Harnessing these invaluable stem cells has paved the way for FDA-approved treatments of more than 80 diseases and disorders. From leukemia and lymphoma to sickle cell anemia and genetic disorders, cord blood presents a multifaceted solution to a myriad of medical challenges.

Additionally, pioneering research has unveiled its promise in vascular repair and regenerative therapy as well. These trials encompass a diverse array of conditions, including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, dementia, stroke, cirrhosis, diabetic complications, and cardiac ischemia among others. With ongoing advancements in medical research and technology, the horizon of possibilities for newborn stem cells in regenerative medicine and personalised therapies continues to expand. As such, cord blood emerges not just as a medical resource but as a beacon of hope for millions worldwide.

Family banking options

Stem cell laboratories in the UAE, such as CellSave Arabia, introduce family banking services, revolutionising the landscape of stem cell preservation. This innovative approach empowers parents to safeguard their child's future by storing precious stem cells, ensuring accessibility for the child or close family members in times of need. The introduction of family banking launches a new era of peace of mind for parents by offering the option to store stem cells exclusively for the families’ use. Expectant parents can now proactively invest in their loved ones' health and well-being, forging a path towards a more secure future.

Dubai: The world’s leading medical hub

The UAE's reputation as a global hub for medical tourism has significantly contributed to the growing interest in stem cell banking in the country. Drawing patients from diverse corners of the world in pursuit of state-of-the-art medical treatments, the UAE stands at the forefront of healthcare innovation. Dubai witnessed a remarkable surge in medical tourism in 2022, welcoming 674,000 medical tourists from across the globe, spending a total of Dh992 million during the year, marking an increase of Dh262 million from 2021. Recognising the transformative impact of cord blood stem cells in medical treatment, international patients are increasingly drawn to the prospect of accessing such innovative therapies within the UAE's dynamic healthcare landscape.

Supportive government initiatives

The UAE government's proactive stance towards newborn stem cell banking emphasises its commitment to advancing healthcare innovation. The government has implemented stringent regulations to uphold the safety and quality standards of storage facilities and practices.

In embracing newborn stem cell banking as a fundamental aspect of healthcare planning, the UAE government through the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) and Dubai Health Authority (DHA), demonstrates its unwavering dedication to promoting the well-being of its people.

While the benefits of cord blood banking are undisputed, it is an entirely optional, personal decision that parents-to-be can research and discuss with their families as well as the healthcare providers.

Copyright © 2022 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).