Cord Blood Banking was initially suggested to me about 6 months into my first pregnancy. As my family has a history of breast cancer, I was particularly interested in what I could do to minimize the risk for my soon-to-be-born daughter. And, even though stem cells derived from cord blood were not being used to treat breast cancer at the time, I knew that clinical trials were under way and that such therapies were likely to be the treatment of choice in the near future. So, I enrolled in a collection and storage program to protect this precious asset. I view it sort of as a biological insurance policy for my daughter, for myself, and for my immediate family should the medical need arise.
What Is Cord Blood?
Cord Blood is found in the umbilical cord and placenta of newborn babies. Cord blood is rich in stem cells and, therefore, has significant medical value. Although cord blood stem cells are not embryonic, they are more powerful than adult stem cells because they have not been damaged due to age, illness, or other harmful environmental factors.
What Is Cord Blood Used For?
Cord Blood is used to treat various diseases primarily through stem cell transplants and emerging therapies in regenerative medicine. At present, cord blood is being used to aid recovery from cancers including leukemia, lymphoma, and various forms of anemia. Future therapies, now in clinical trials, use cord blood to treat Alzheimer’s, autism, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, stroke, and traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. Research is also being conducted to assess its value when applied to diabetes and heart disease. The list of ailments that can potentially be treated with cord blood stem cells expands almost daily.
What Is Cord Blood Banking?
Cord Blood Banking is the process of collecting cord blood from the baby’s umbilical cord and placenta at birth and storing the newborn stem cells for future medical use. There are two types of cord blood storage available to new parents: 1) private cord blood storage where a family cord blood bank charges a collection and storage fee as a form of biological stem cell insurance for the baby and close family members, and 2) public cord blood storage where parent’s donate their cord blood to a public cord blood bank which is then catalogued and placed on a national registry for use by the general public. In short, private cord blood banking allows the family to retain ownership of the precious stem cells and public cord blood banking donates your baby’s stem cells for research and use by the general public.
How Much Does Cord Blood Banking Cost?
Private Cord Blood Banking costs are dependent upon many factors including whether you want to collect and store just the cord blood, just the placenta, or a combination of the two. Typical family cord blood storage costs are approximately $2,000 for collection and 1 year of storage, with prepaid storage for 18 years costing and additional $5,000 to $10,000. However, most private cord blood banks offer monthly payments during the storage term so the entire cost can be spread out over the 18 year plan. Public Cord Blood Banking is free for the parents as you are simply donating your baby’s stem cells for public use. However, the family has no control over who gets to use the donated cord blood and it may even be sold by the public bank to pharmaceutical companies for research.
How Is Cord Blood Collected?
There are three commonly used methods of collecting of cord blood that are relatively quick and painless. Method one places a blood bag below the mother and gravity drains blood from the clamped umbilical cord into the collection bag. This is the most common cord blood collection practice as it is very simple and greatly reduces the opportunity for contamination. Method two requires the blood to be actively drawn from the umbilical cord with a syringe. This method is painless for both mother and baby and has the benefit of collecting a larger volume of cord blood more quickly. Method three allows for the blood to be collected ex utero where a technician takes the umbilical cord and placenta into another room and drains the cord blood into a special bag or container for storage. Which method is ultimately used for collecting the cord blood is up to the mother and storage facility that has been selected.
Cord Blood Banking Pros And Cons
Cord blood contains stem cells that can save lives. Privately, your baby’s otherwise unused stem cells can provide an immediate relative with a higher survival rate should a life threatening illness occur. There is no downside except for the cost. Publicly, approximately 75% of patients who need a stem cell transplant do not have a matching donor in their own family. Your baby’s cord blood can be donated, registered, and stored for free for use by others. There is no downside.
Where Can I Find A Private Cord Blood Bank?
Private Cord Blood Banks that perform collection or storage of cord blood must register with U.S. Food & Drug Administration. You can search the FDA’s website for information on registered cord blood banks here. For blood cord storage options and prices, check out our list of Best Private Blood Cord Banks for more information.
Where Can I Find A Public Cord Blood Bank?
Public Cord Blood Banks collect and store donated cord blood at little or no cost to eligible families. For a list of hospitals participating in the public cord blood bank program, search the “Be The Match” database here.