Asians are beginning to warm up to the idea of using their own stem cells to treat a host of illnesses such as heart disease, cystic fibrosis or leukemia. Some parents are preserving their babies' umbilical cords, hoping that as technology advances their children can use the umbilical blood to cure future illnesses.
It is a nightmare for parents to hear their child has developed a disease that requires a bone marrow transplant. For instance, patients with leukemia, a type of blood cancer, sometimes have a hard time finding a bone marrow match.
Scientists say the umbilical cord that attaches a baby to its mother is a rich source of stem cells, which can treat diseases like leukemia. They can be collected immediately after birth and stored in freezers by companies such as Cordlife, which operates cord blood banks in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, India and the Philippines. If a child needs it, doctors can retrieve cord blood for treatment.