Cord Blood Banking
Cord blood banking is an option for
parents who want to preserve the blood of the umbilical cord and placenta of their
help with possible future medical needs of their child. It can also be used for other
biologically matched children, either in their own family or the general public.
What is cord blood?
Cord blood, found in the umbilical
cord and placenta, is rich in stem cells. These cells have the amazing potential to
into many types of cells. Scientists believe that these cells can play a role in healing
a variety of diseases, including cancer. The only time that you can put these cord
cells into storage is right after birth. Stem cells are found in parts of the body,
the blood and bone marrow. But they are much more difficult to collect.
Why save cord blood?
Deciding to save cord blood is a
personal decision. Many people do it because the cells in cord blood are a perfect
to that baby and could be used to help them survive a serious health threat such as
immune system disorder or problem with metabolism. Some experts believe that the chance
that any given child will need their own cord blood stem cells is about 1 in 2,700.
Stem cells can’t be used to treat a
genetic disease—a disease that your child is born with—because they carry the same
that caused the disease. But the cells can be used to help treat a biological
“match”—another youngster who has similar biological qualities and needs stem cells.
This is the benefit of public banking.
How cord blood is collected
Cord blood collection is quick and
painless. After the baby is delivered, your healthcare provider will close off the
umbilical cord using a clamp. Then, using a needle, the healthcare provider will draw
out the blood into a sterile bag. This will be sealed before the placenta is delivered.
Sometimes the cord is simply tilted to let the blood drain into a bag. Between one-half
and 1 cup of stem cell-rich cord blood can be collected. This must be done within
minutes of birth.
In some instances, it’s not
possible to get enough cord blood, like when a baby is premature or when twins shared
placenta. Certain infections may rule out cord blood collection as well.
Depending on the policies of your
hospital and your health insurance, a collection fee may be involved. Check in advance
to find out whether there are any charges you will have to cover.
Options for storing cord blood
After collection, the blood is sent
to the facility of your choice, where it will be processed and then frozen in storage.
No one is certain how long cord blood lasts. Some experts believe it can be stored
21 years or more.
You have two options for storing
cord blood: public storage or private storage. These storage spaces are referred to
“banks.” The facility you choose should be accredited through the American Association
of Blood Banks.
Storing cord blood in a public bank
is free. But like a blood bank, the facility makes your stored cord blood available
other children who are biological matches.
Storing cord blood in a private
bank means that the cord blood will be available to your family only. This type of
storage requires both an initial fee and annual storage fees. The initial fee could
as high as $2,000, with annual storage fees of approximately $100. Make sure you
understand all the fees involved in private storage. Also, find out what would happen
the bank were to go out of business.