For many years, leukemias and lymphomas were perceived as a verdict, and only at the end of the twentieth century with the development of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and the improvement of chemotherapeutic agents, most forms of “blood cancer” became curable. Acceptable for transplantation sources of hematopoietic stem cells are bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, peripheral blood.
The world’s first successful bone marrow transplant was performed by Donnal Thomas in 1969, and the scientist was later awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology. About 50,000 hematopoietic stem cell transplants are performed worldwide each year. In Ukraine, about 1,000 patients need hematopoietic stem cell transplants each year, most of which can only be obtained abroad because Ukraine is just beginning to integrate with global donor registries.
Hematopoietic stem cell donation is arranged in such a way that people who want to save someone’s life, apply to the appropriate organizations and undergo medical examinations, including the definition of “immune passport”. The patient’s immunophenotype is then entered into an international registry, and if an immunologically compatible patient is or will be present in any country of the world, the registered donor is offered surgery to isolate the bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells. If the cells are isolated from the peripheral blood, the donor is prescribed special drugs, stimulators of hematopoiesis for some time. Stem cells are taken from peripheral blood during a procedure called apheresis. On September 15, the American Apheresis Society celebrates Apheresis Awareness Day.
If the stem cells are isolated from the bone marrow, the donor undergoes several hours of surgery under endotracheal anesthesia, after which he undergoes rehabilitation. Despite some health risks for the donor, associated with hematopoietic stem cell donation, there are at least 5 million people worldwide who wish to save the life of a leukemia patient through bone marrow donation. In order to honor these noble people, September 19 is World Marrow Donor Day. There are also information campaigns and educational activities to encourage hematopoietic stem cell donation.
The European Blood and Marrow Transplant Group in 2006, and then again in 2010, officially declared umbilical cord blood equivalent to bone marrow. And the collection of umbilical cord blood during childbirth, in contrast to the procurement of hematopoietic stem cells of bone marrow or peripheral blood, is a completely painless and safe procedure for the mother and takes place without contact with the newborn, after the child is born.
The umbilical cord blood stored in the cryobank can later be used, if necessary, to treat a child from whose umbilical cord it is collected or an immunologically compatible family member. Around 6 million parents worldwide have provided their children with a long-term reserve of health in the form of cellular deposits in biobanks. Also, about a million parents donated the umbilical cord blood of their children to state (public) biobanks, from where it goes to treat patients.
In total, more than 40,000 umbilical cord blood transplants have been performed worldwide in oncohematology, and much more in regenerative medicine (diseases of the heart, blood vessels, liver, brain, lungs, etc.). In Japan alone, about 1,000 cord blood hematopoietic stem cell transplants are performed annually.
The Association of Cryobanks of the Umbilical Cord Blood, Other Human Cells and Tissues supports the international initiatives to mark the World Marrow Donor Day and pays tribute to the heroic deeds of people who give life to others by sharing hematopoietic stem cells.