Influential Factors Regarding the Choice to Donate Umbilical Cord Blood (UCB)
While most people think of bone marrow as the key source of stem cells, in recent years the collection and donation of umbilical cord blood (UCB) stem cells has become increasingly popular. Cord blood stem cells—which can be transplanted to donor matched individuals similar to the stem cells found in bone marrow—have been used to treat various immune and metabolic disorders, along with cancers such as leukemia and blood disorders such as anemia ("Options," n.d.; "Cord blood and," n.d.). These stem cells can be obtained through individual donations of UCB to public banks, or through privately banked samples kept for distribution only within a family ("Options," n.d.). Within the medical community, discussion of the pros and cons of UCB's applications is becoming increasingly common; however, the general population remains relatively unaware of UCB's value, biological mechanisms, and function. Thus there is a great discrepancy in knowledge between health care professionals and potential UCB donors regarding the utility and collection process of UCB stem cells. This literature review seeks to examine the social, economic, and biological factors influencing a family's decision to donate, privately store, or discard their baby's UCB. Furthermore, this review will analyze the impact of improved patient outreach measures and consent processes in relation to UCB education and donation.
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