INFOGRAPHIC: Stem Cell Awareness Day and its facts

The best time to collect stem cells is at birth. Photo: supplied

October 12 marks Stem Cell Awareness Day, which is aimed at educating the public about stem cells.

Those planning to be parents should know about the life-saving abilities of umbilical cord stem cells so that they can make informed decisions for their families.

Stem cells can replicate, regenerate and differentiate themselves into any one of 200 different specialised cells in the body. Stem cells are used to treat over 80 potentially life-threatening blood-related diseases including leukemia, lymphoma and bone marrow failures.

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Blood stem cell transplantation, using stem blood cells from sources such as the bone marrow, has been performed for more than 50 years now.

In that time there has been more than one million blood stem cell transplants across the world. Such transplants play an important role in treating bone marrow failures, blood cancers, blood disorders, metabolic diseases, immune deficiencies and autoimmune diseases.

Cryo-Save South Africa, a private stem cell storage bank, supplied Rekord with interesting facts about stem cells:

– Stem cells are the body’s internal repair system. They continuously replace dead or diseases cells with healthy ones to maintain a normal functioning body. (They fall into two major groups, namely pluripotent and multipotent stem cells.)

– The best time to collect stem cells is at birth. This is because stem cells age as people age. The stem cells collected at birth have not been exposed to pollution and poor lifestyle choices. They therefore offer greater therapeutic possibilities and better transplant outcomes.

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– Stem cells from umbilical cord blood don’t need to be a 100% match for transplants.

– Stem cell storage is not that costly. It is available to anyone who wants to store their baby’s umbilical cord stem cells.

 

Photo: supplied

 

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  AUTHOR
Felicia Nkhwashu
Journalist

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