Question: Hi Elise! What is a CORD blood collector?

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  1. Hi there, a cord blood collector is a form of blood collector (phlebotomist) who draws blood from the umbilical vein. The umbilical vein is in the cord that runs from the placenta to the baby – it is the baby’s lifeline, supplying essential nutrients from the mother to the baby but via a physical barrier (the placenta) so that the mother’s immune system does not attack the baby because it is ‘foreign’ in that it contains DNA from the mother and the father. The umbilical cord is where the name of the belly button (umbilicus) comes from! The cord itself generally contains two arteries, which are quite fine and a very large vein. Some cords have different numbers of vessels too. The cord blood collector takes blood from the umbilical vein in the same way as the red cross collects blood donations. A large needle is used to drain the blood into a sterile bag, which contains anticoagulant so that the blood does not clot, and the collection continues until the vein is empty, you know this because the vein quivers and then collapses around the needle. The reason cord blood is collected from the vein is to isolate fetal (from the baby) stem cells. There is lots of research going on where stem cells are be used and/or trialled to treat diseases such as cancer and eye damage. You can see some pictures here:
    There are also some cord blood banks in Australia, the Mater Hospital is a public cord blood bank in Brisbane, which means that it can be accessed for treating people form all over the world. The collection guidelines are very strict though, so not everyone who has a baby can store cord blood in the public bank. There are also some private ones, which means the cord blood can only be used by the family who pays to collect and store it. Using the cord blood is tricky business, it requires the same checks as a blood transfusion because if the cells are not compatible with the person who gets the treatment then their body may damage itself. Research in the field is really taking off though and many scientists believe that in the future, stem cells we be able to be used to treat many diseases.