CTV recently ran a story about a young Canadian boy, Lucas Blake, who is searching for a stem cell match. Lucas is suffering from Fanconi anemia, an inherited disorder where the patient’s bone marrow is unable to manufacture new blood cells. His father is Jamaican and his mother is Portuguese, making a mixed race match even more challenging. Since a cord blood match requires matching DNA markers and HLA antigens, it is even more difficult to find a stem cell match for a mixed-race patient.
A few years ago, the family was excited to learn that they were expecting a baby. Their older son was not a match for Lucas, maybe the new baby would be. The family might be able to use the new baby’s cord blood to treat Lucas. Unfortunately, the new baby was not a match and, he too was suffering from Fanconi’s anemia.
According to the story, 70% of patients are unable to find a stem cell match within their family. This is why cord blood banks and bone marrow registries are so important. A baby’s birth is the only time that cord blood can be saved. Unfortunately, there is no way to know at birth if the cord blood will be needed. While bone marrow registries and public cord blood banks offer options, they can’t guarantee a match.
Learn more about the differences between public vs. private cord blood banking.