A Brief History of Cord Blood Banks
The history behind blood banks is quite interesting. It is full of medical challenges filled with failures and success. Countless people lost their lives due to experimentation and trials of methods. Medical science advanced only recently and before that surgeons depended on a hit and trial method. We had to solve a lot of mysteries before we actually started storing donated blood for future use.
Human to human transfusion and Discovery of blood groups
During the period of 1818, there was almost no knowledge regarding human blood. People knew that the loss of blood caused death so they tried to compensate for the loss of blood by swallowing blood of animals or of other humans. Obviously, the results used to be fatal. It was determined that the blood could not be swallowed and had to be injected. A series of hits and trials with direct transfusion of random people resulted in a mixed tally of successes and failures. Slowly people started to understand that there must be other variables at play and it was then around 1901 that humans discovered other blood types like A, B, and O.
Indirect transfusion and blood banks
Indirect transfusion began by 1914 once all the blood types were understood and grouped. We had finally made some major advancements in blood transfusion. We now knew which blood type to match with what. By 1917 some organizations had found new techniques to store blood for long periods and thus blood banks were invented.
Stem cell research
Further research revealed that the stem cells had the potential to cure many diseases which were a threat to humanity. Cord blood study and bone marrow transplant during 1956 facilitated further studies which resulted in finding the cure for lethal diseases like leukemia. The question, when did cord blood banking start is about to be answered. Slowly doctors realized that the umbilical cord of a pregnant woman contains stem cells in high quantity and started requesting them to donate the cord blood for research and transplants.
By 2000 storage began on a small scale. Around 10,000 cases of operations involving cord blood transfusion were noted. By 2005 a lot of private firms had been set up which invested in blood banking and cord blood banking as the demand for both had increased exponentially. Advancements in medical science meant that stem cells in the cord blood were now being used for not only operations but also for research regarding finding cures for even more diseases. By 2015 the research on cord blood stem cells had resulted in finding cures for around 80 lethal diseases which were known to be incurable before. The number of people opting for transplants had also gone up which had created a huge demand for stem cells. All this forced more research into storage and laid stress on the importance of donation of cord blood.
Blood banking and cord blood banking is a perfect example of development in the field of medical science. The life expectancy of the average human has gone up due to the constant efforts of the researchers and doctors trying to find ways to save and enhance human lives. The contribution of these blood banks has left a deep and positive effect on society and will continue to do so.