Alba Martinez was born in the province of Cádiz in 2007 and despite her good health, her parents say they decided to provide her with “life insurance” by means of preserving her umbilical cord in cold storage, an option taken by only a handful of parents in Spain.
At 22 months, Martinez began to suffer from a brain tumor and needed several intensive rounds of chemotherapy, which destroyed her blood cells, requiring her to receive infusions of stem cells from her umbilical cord. The availability of such a treatment in infants suffering from cancer is rare, due to the fact that in most cases the child suffers from leukemia, which originates in a genetic defect also found in the child’s stem cells.
Today, 16 months after her stem cells restored her blood system, Martinez remains cancer free. Doctors will be able to certify her as “cured” after living a total of five years without a relapse.
Her parents say that the procedure is their “best investment” ever.
“Conserving the umbilical cord is betting on the future, a life insurance that you don’t know if you will need sometime, but that can save a life,” said Theresa Molina, the child’s mother.
The case adds to a growing number of successes using adult or umbilical cord stem cells in curing a variety of diseases. In contrast with embryonic stem cell procedures, which destroy a human life in its earliest stages and which have never produced a single cure to date, adult or umbilical cord stem cell procedures are harmless to the donor and are proving to be a powerful weapon in the arsenal of modern medical treatments