Understanding The Concept Of Cord Blood Matching

cord blood

Cord blood banking is a medical miracle that can be beneficial for the baby as well as the existing and future family members. Amazingly, the stem cells it contains can be used for treating a host of diseases and conditions including cancer, blood-related disorders, and even genetic disorders. While the stem cells in it can be used for the baby, their use for treating other members of the family depends on whether they are a match or not. Hence, it becomes important to understand the concept of cord blood matching so that you may know what to expect in the future if you decide to invest in the procedure. 

What is HLA-Matching?

Almost all cells in the body have proteins called human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) which let the body decide whether the cell is one of its own or a foreign entity. Essentially, HLAs are responsible for the body’s response to foreign cells such as viruses and bacteria. These proteins come from the HLA genes, half of which are inherited from each of the parents. Successful cord blood transplantation or infusion requires a match of at least three or four out of six HLA markers. On the other hand, it has to be a six-out-of-six match six for bone marrow transplantation. Before using up the stem cell therapy for a patient, HLA matching is essential to ensure that the treatment would work.

Who would match the cord blood of your baby?

Cord blood banking is a modern procedure that parents can depend on for protecting their child’s health in the future. Obviously, you would want to know How does cord blood banking work, and also the extent to which it can work. Fortunately, it doesn’t just have a life-saving potential for the child but for other family members as well. Here are the people who can gain life-saving benefits from stem cell transplant treatment.

The baby: Obviously, the cord blood of your baby is going to be a 100% match for him or her. This makes an autologous transplant the most preferred method for treatment as the risk of graft-versus-host disease is practically minimal.

Parents: Each parent provides one HLA group to the baby, which means that the child’s cord blood will always be a 50% match for both the parents. If the parents share HLA markers, the matching HLA markers could even exceed 50%. So a haploidentical transplant for parents is quite effective.

Siblings: As children get one group of HLA markers from each parent, the chances of a perfect match is 25% while those of a partial match is 50% for the siblings from the same parents. However, there is also a 25% probability of not being a match. 

Half-siblings: Unlike siblings, half-siblings share the HLA markers only from one parent. There is a probability that they may or may not have got the same markers, so the chance is only up to a half-match. A haploidentical transplant would be possible only if the half-sibling is a 50% match.

Cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles: The compatibility of the child’s cord blood reduces as you move further from the immediate family. Still, blood-related cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles may have some compatibility. But it may not be adequate for transplantation.

Now that you understand the proven benefits of cord blood, taking the decision for banking it will be easier. After all, the effort is worthwhile considering that it can be a lifesaver for the baby and your family as well.

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