A newborn baby girl in China may be the miracle that her sister needs to survive.
Doctors are using stem cells from baby Sun Yiwei’s umbilical cord blood to create a bone marrow transplant for her ill 5-year-old sister, Sun Lexuan, the Daily Mail reports.
Three years ago, the Linyia, China family discovered that their oldest daughter has aplastic anemia, a condition that affects the bone marrow and the body’s ability to produce blood cells, according to the report.
Lexuan needs a bone marrow transplant, but neither parent was able to donate tissue for medical reasons. The girl’s parents decided to have a second child, knowing that the baby’s umbilical cord blood could help Lexuan, the report states.
Yiwei was born on Jan. 19 in the same hospital where her older sister is receiving care. Photos show the sisters cuddling and smiling together in their hospital rooms.
Here’s more from the report:
The best treatment for the condition is a bone marrow transplant, especially using the stem cells from a sibling who is a tissue match. Lexuan did not have any brothers or sisters, which made the treatment challenging.
However, thanks to her little sister, Sun Yiwei, Lexuan is now able to get a stem cell transplant through Yiwei’s umbilical cord blood.
Stem cells from cord blood are more adaptable than bone marrow stem cells, according to Cord Blood Banking. This means cord blood cells do not require the donor to have an exact match in tissue type with the patient.
Cord blood cells are abundant in immature stem cells which can develop into white blood cells, red blood cells and even platelets.
Umbilical cords are just one of three sources for these cells, and have become more popular in recent years.
Stem cells from umbilical cords and other tissue now are being used in life-saving treatments for people across the world. These tissue donations are a wonderful, ethical alternative to embryonic stem cells, which are collected by destroying an innocent unborn baby’s life at its earliest stage.
Adult stem cells and those from umbilical cords are proving to be live-saving, while life-destroying embryonic stem cells have not been effective.
David Prentice, vice president and research director for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, explained more about the effectiveness of adult stem cells in 2014:
Umbilical cord blood stem cells have become an extremely valuable alternative to bone marrow adult stem cell transplants, ever since cord blood stem cells were first used for patients over 25 years ago. The first umbilical cord blood stem cell transplant was performed in October 1988, for a 5-year-old child with Fanconi anemia, a serious condition where the bone marrow fails to make blood cells. That patient is currently alive and healthy, 25 years after the cord blood stem cell transplant.
Prentice said more than 30,000 cord blood stem cell transplants have been done across the world. These stem cells have helped treat people with blood and bone marrow diseases, leukemia and genetic enzyme diseases, he said.