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What is Cord Blood Awareness?

The leading provider of affordable healthcare in SA, Affinity Health, highlights the life-saving benefits of Cord Blood Awareness.

What is Cord Blood?

Did you know that cord blood is the blood from your baby’s umbilical cord? Collecting and preserving umbilical cord and placenta cells is called cord blood banking.


Historically, medical facilities discarded cord blood after delivery. But today, many parents save it for their child’s future health. Why, might you ask?


The abundant stem cells in cord blood can treat the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Blood disorders like anaemia
  • Some immune system disorders

How Does Cord Blood Banking Work?

Did you know that around 3 468 babies are born every day in South Africa?


With so many newborns, hospitals must store a large amount of cord blood. Correct? Wrong! While birth numbers may be high, only 5 to 10% of cord blood gets preserved. People need more knowledge about cord blood treatments and their benefits. Researchers discovered stem cells from umbilical cord blood in 1978. But the first transplant was not performed until 1988.


“From that point, we’ve seen substantial medical progress,” says Murray Hewlett, Affinity Health CEO.


“Doctors are increasingly excited about exploring this as a treatment option. They found that cord blood transplants were more effective than bone marrow transplants.” Cord blood is superior to allogeneic stem cell and bone marrow transplants. That is due to the immature immune systems of infants. Thus, the cord blood stem cells match the patient’s body.

How Is Cord Blood Collected?

Cord blood is simple to collect. Once the baby is born, your doctor will clamp the umbilical cord in two places. At about 10 inches apart, the doctor will cut the cord and separate mother and child.


Then, the doctor will inject a needle into the umbilical cord. He will withdraw at least 40 millilitres of blood. The blood is placed in a sealed container and relayed for testing and storage. It takes only a few minutes and is painless for both mother and baby.


Private cord blood banks will keep donated blood for the sole benefit of the donor and their family. These banks impose fees for processing and storage every year. Some parents choose not to bank cord blood. It is expensive to store cord blood at a facility. The chances of your child using the stored cord blood are low.

What Illnesses and Conditions Can Cord Blood Treat?

To find a qualified donor for any transplant, 70% of patients must go beyond their families.

When a match, cord blood may help in the treatment of the following:

What Tomorrow Holds

“It’s possible that storing your child’s cord blood cells now may combat these diseases. For now, these treatments are only theories. It’s also unclear if stem cells from cord blood – as opposed to stem cells from other sources – will work as treatments,” concludes Hewlett.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is the leading provider of affordable medical insurance in South Africa. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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