There are thousands of diseases in the United States that still classify as uncured. While there are treatment options available for a majority of these disorders, scientists are working every day to find methods that may be able to cure them. However, recent studies show that that one specific source may hold the answers to a host of medical issues: cord blood.
In preparation for next month’s National Cord Blood Awareness Month, continue below to learn more about cord blood, why it is useful, and how you can help those with still-uncured disorders find the help they need.
What is Cord Blood?
When babies form in the womb, they require a nutrient-rich environment in which to grow and develop. After birth, this nutritious environment, composed of blood and placenta, is typically discarded. However, recent studies have found that these substances (collectively called “cord blood”) contain much more than nutrients.
Cord blood has been shown to also contain stem cells from the adult parent, which have not fully formed into the blood cells intended for the fetus’s use. These stem cells are extremely valuable because of their versatility, and can survive for a long time if treated properly. In addition, cord blood collection is much safer than normal stem cell or blood collection, and can be safely frozen to store for years after its initial collection.
What Can Cord Blood Do?
Because of it’s recent use in scientific study, cord blood has not yet been directly linked to any new medical cures. However, according to initial studies, the stem cells available in cord blood provide unlimited potential in finding cures to a variety of diseases.
For example, as of July 2016, Dr. Daohong Zhou of the UAMS College of Pharmacy has begun research on cord blood’s uses in curing aggressive hematological diseases like leukemia. Because cord blood contains many of the same primitive cells that are targeted in leukemia, cord blood may hold the answer to cell systems that can prevent the spread of blood cancer. Other disorders such as severe bone marrow disease, myelodysplastic syndromes, and severe aplastic anemia may also find cures from cord blood, which is easy to experiment with and is available in abundance.
Because cord blood is a new resource, it is common that many hospitals are still unaware of its value. Thus, it is vital that people take advantage of July as Cord Blood Awareness Month to spread the word and help to preserve as much as possible. Methods include:
- speaking with your local hospital about their cord blood collection policies
- informing your loved ones about cord blood collection and encouraging them to tell others
- making monetary donations to local cord blood banks or the Cord Blood Association
- if applicable, saving and donating your own cord blood to further cure research
Resources Available to Those With Uncured Diseases
For those with still-uncured diseases like leukemia or bone marrow disease, hope is not lost. While a cure may still be on the horizon, there is no better time than now to get the most advanced medical treatments that have ever been available. For almost every disorder, there is an organization or institute dedicated to education and assistance for those who have it. This means you could be a simple internet search away from a variety of resources dedicated solely for to individuals with your disorder!
If you experience financial difficulties due to your severe disorder, then it is possible you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. This program is dedicated to providing insurance and monthly financial benefits to those whose disorders prevent them from living their normal lives. To see if you may qualify, you can look up your diagnosis in the Social Security’s Blue Book, which lists the qualifications necessary for all disorders. It is also recommended that you speak with your physician to discuss your diagnosis and receive any tests confirming you disorder’s severity before applying.
Considering a Disability Attorney
If you are considering applying for disability benefits, it may also be wise to schedule a free consultation with a disability attorney. Their sole purpose is to help those with severe disorders navigate the tricky legal processes necessary to get disability benefits. In fact, attorneys have been statistically shown to improve applicant’s chances of getting benefits. To reduce the financial strain of hiring legal help, federal regulation also prevents attorneys from receiving payment unless they win your case.