February 06, 2008
The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) commends the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) for recognizing the need to educate physicians and expectant parents on current uses of cord blood in transplantation. The NMDP also applauds the organization for recently updating its 1997 guidelines, acknowledging that medical advancements in transplantation have enabled umbilical cord blood to greatly expand treatment options for patients.
Increasingly, patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases are being treated with publicly donated cord blood; they are among the 70% of people who do not have a suitably matched person within their family. These patients turn to the NMDP Registry of donated cord blood and adult donors to find a match to potentially save their lives. Since 2004, the number of cord blood transplants facilitated by the NMDP has nearly doubled each year, and the NMDP has now facilitated almost 2,000 transplants using publicly donated cord blood.
"Increased donations to public banks can help meet the growing need for unrelated cord blood units," said Kathy Welte, director of the NMDP’s Center for Cord Blood. "By educating physicians and expectant parents about cord blood banking options, ACOG can help even more patients receive the transplant that may be their best or only hope of a cure."
As ACOG’s guidelines describe, cord blood has advantages and disadvantages compared with marrow donated from an adult donor. Because NMDP’s Registry includes both donated cord blood and adult donors, physicians who are treating patients with these life-threatening diseases turn to the NMDP as a resource to help them determine the best option for their patient. Cord blood is particularly useful for patients who need a transplant quickly, because the units are stored and ready to use.
"The role of the NMDP is to expand treatment options to all patients in need of a life-saving transplant," continued Welte. "To achieve this important goal, we aim to increase the size and diversity of the NMDP Registry by working with our network of public cord blood banks to support the efforts of obstetricians and gynecologists as they educate expectant mothers about the option of cord blood donation."
Currently, the NMDP Registry lists more than 72,000 cord blood units, and an additional 220,000 units are available through the NMDP’s international partnerships. Every search for a match conducted through the NMDP provides patients with access to more than 290,000 cord blood units and 11 million adult marrow donors throughout the world.