PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – It’s an endless search in the health field to find cures for diseases. What we’ve learned in recent decades is the cure could come from something we are all born with.
The umbilical cord is considered the lifeline for an unborn baby but medical experts say that cord also holds the key to treat several diseases beyond the mother’s womb. A NEPA doctor spoke out about its importance with Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller.
As Geisinger Obstetrician-Gynecologist Manny Arreguin, MD checked his eight months pregnant patient, he pointed out the unborn baby’s source of nourishment. “Here’s the placenta again and you can see some of the cord that’s coming off.”
That umbilical cord contains nutrient-rich blood. What frustrates Dr. Arreguin is that almost all cords are discarded after childbirth. “We’re throwing good, valuable blood away.”
Cord blood, which can be collected when the umbilical cord is cut at birth, contains stem cells capable of treating more than 80 diseases which harm the blood and immune system. “Worldwide, we have 3,000 Americans to date annually that die because they are unable to get cord blood transplants.”
Dr. Arreguin stresses the value of cord blood banking which was popular in Arizona where he previously worked. “The blood that was collected in Tucson, Arizona went to actually provide a blood transplant, life-saving measures for two children.”
A law in Pennsylvania passed a decade ago requires health care facilities and providers to inform moms-to-be how to arrange for cord blood storage. Dr. Arreguin wants Pennsylvania to emerge as a leading site for those donations. “With our proximity to Washington, DC we absolutely need to go and lobby and make sure that we here in the state of Pennsylvania can actually get access to that to be able to put that into place.”
Dr. Arreguin is Director of Women’s Health at Geisinger Northeast. He says cord blood banking is one of the areas that will be highly focused on in 2019 when Geisinger-CMC in Scranton opens a new maternity unit. Dr. Arreguin also works closely with a national effort called Save The Cord Foundation.