Cord Blood: A New Hope For Leukemia

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cord Blood: A New Hope For Leukemia

What is leukemia? It is one of the most common type of cancer basically found in the blood, tissues and bone marrow. In face, it is number 8 in top cancers in the Philippines. The leukemia usually starts in the bone marrow that can result into the development of abnormal white blood cells. The abnormal white blood cells is not fully developed that causes the symptoms commonly found in people with leukemia. These common symptoms are easily bruising, bleeding and extreme fatigue. The body There is a lot of combined treatments just to cure leukemia and yet there is only low percentage of survival rate although it still depends on the age of the person.. According to some research, younger people have higher rate of survival.

Last July 2014, a video from Mai went viral as she asks for help for a compatible umbilical cord donor for her second battle against leukemia. Watch her video in English version below:

Mai Duong is a 34 year old Vietnamese-Canadian mother diagnosed with Leukemia.

In 2005, the Philippine Cancer Society recorded 4,202 new cases, 2,243 of which is among males with 3.9 percent incidence rate while 1,959 cases were recorded among females with an incidence rate of 3.6 percent. With an average 5-year survival rate of only 25 percent, an estimated 3,498 deaths are expected with 1,863 in men and 1,635 among women. (1)

The body produces white blood cells naturally to fight off bad micro organisms in the body. That is why when we obtain a bacterial infection and have a complete blood count done, white blood cell count is high. The white blood cells tries to fight off the foreign bodies. However, due to the abnormal development of white blood cells in people with leukemia its either they are too many for the body or they do not function correctly.

The symptoms of the disease varies from fever or chills, persistent fatigue and weakness, frequent or severe infections, unexpected weight loss, swelling of lymph nodes, bruising or bleeding easily, frequently recurring nosebleeds, visible red spots, bone pain or tenderness and excessive sweating at night. (2)

Beyond the physical pain that leukemia patients experience, they are also susceptible to emotional stress and anxiety. And when it comes to the trauma and emotional pain, the patient’s family is no exception. Studies showed that anxiety and posttraumatic stress are common to leukemia patients’ families during and even after suffering from the condition. Researchers found that childhood cancer treatment has a long-term impact on parents and families, thus, highlighting the need for psychological interventions during and after the cancer treatment. (3)

As a practicing nurse working in a tertiary hospital, it saddens me when I handle a patient suffering from any kind of cancer. Specially when I see it on children. The effects of the stem cell transplantation gives hope for recovery for patients and their families, this includes the cells taken from the umbilical cord blood. 

Like Duong, Ryan Foo is also among the many leukemia victims who conducted a nationwide search for bone marrow stem cells. Foo suffered from leukemia at a very young age and found hope of recovery after his baby sister, Rachel was born. Rachel’s cord blood was collected and was processed and stored in Cordlife’s cord blood banking facility. Ryan has been in remission following the successful transplantation in Singapore in 2002. (4)

In 2005, cord blood transplantation for a 9-year-old female diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia was performed according to Philippine Journal of Medicinev. The family had to search for one year before finding a cord blood unit in Japan that matches their precious child. The cost of the cord blood unit was about six-folds of how much it would have cost had they banked the child’s cord blood. (6)

Recent researches found the umbilical cord blood stem cells effective in many life-threatening diseases and this includes the leukemia. The umbilical cord blood stem cells gives the chance to people who does not have a bone marrow donor.

“Cord blood opens the door to provide transplants to thousands of leukemia patients who otherwise would not get a transplant,” said Mary J. Laughlin, M.D., of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center in Cleveland, in an article published by the Journal of National Cancer Institute. (5)

Mary J. Laughlin, added in her article that cord blood has two important advantages on bone marrow diseases. With the help of cord blood, there is a faster identification for transplant reducing delays. There is also a higher number of donors so the better chance of finding matches. Laughlin suggests that there should be an expansion of cord blood registrations for greater access leading to provision of more chances for patients find their appropriate matches.

“The more [cord blood samples] we bank the better will be the match and the availability to patients,” Eliane Gluckman, M.D., of the Hôpital Saint-Louis in Paris, said in the same article. She said that “many transplant centers thought it was not possible to use cord blood cells in adults. Now, more people will become aware of this possibility.”

The Loyola Medical Center oncologists found in their research recently that growing cord blood stem cells in a laboratory before proceeding with transplant improves the survival of patients. (6)

Today, Filipinos can now benefit from these breakthroughs in cancer study by banking their babies’ stem cell-rich cord blood. This unique, highly-advanced service is now available in the country through Cordlife Philippines’ cord blood banking service which helps parents protect their child from the dangers of life-threatening diseases including leukemia. 

“Stem cells are at the forefront of one of the most riveting and revolutionary areas of medicine today. While this could be a leap from the traditional treatments available, my fellow doctors and I do recognize cord blood stem cell transplantation as a standard form of treatment for various blood disorders, specially leukemia” Dr. Arvin Faundo, Medical Director of Cordlife Philippines. 

With continuous advancement in cord blood stem cell applications, it’s imperative that parents seize the one chance to save their baby’s cord blood. For more information, download Cordlife’s FREE infopack @ or call them at (02) 332 – 1888.


1 -  2005 Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates, Philippine Cancer Society. Retrived from:

2 - Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from:

3 - Retrieved from:

4 - Retrieved from:

5 - Umbilical Cord Blood Offers Another Option for Leukemia Patients. Damaris Christensen. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 97, No. 4, © Oxford University Press 2005. Retrieved from:

6 - Retrieved from:

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