Cord Blood Banking
Cord Blood Banking (Stem Cell Preservation)
At the time of delivery, excess umbilical cord blood can be preserved. This blood is the baby’s, and it is rich in a type of cell called stem cells. These cord blood stem cells have the ability to become bone marrow cells, and these stem cells have been shown to save lives when used as donor cells for a bone marrow transplant. Bone marrow cells produce the red blood cells, the white blood cells (immune fighters) and the blood platelets (blood clotting cells). Over 75 different diseases have been cured using cord blood stem cells in this manner, and to date there have been over 20,000 cord blood transplants performed throughout the world.
Cord blood cells can be given back to the same individual if that person needs a bone marrow transplant in the future. This is the ideal situation because the cells are genetically identical. These cells also often match a brother or sister, and can be used if they ever need a bone marrow transplant. A genetically similar donor will greatly lower the risks of this high-risk procedure.
There is growing understanding that cord blood stem cells have additional potential. In the laboratory, these cells have shown the ability to help repair other damaged organs such as heart, brain or spinal cord. This field of study is called regenerative medicine. Some scientists are studying the use of cord blood cells to try and cure juvenile diabetes. Success stories are few so far, but there are over 200 research trials underway at the present time.
There are 3 choices on what to do with cord blood at the time of delivery.
- One is to pay money to save it for your own use. This is called Family Banking.
- Another choice is to donate the cord blood to a public bank. Currently there are no local banks doing this.
- The third is to throw away the blood. This is what happens 96% of the time.
The decision on whether or not to use Family banking of your baby’s cord blood depends on many factors. There is a significant cost for obtaining and preserving umbilical cord blood plus yearly storage fees, however many companies offer payment plans and discounts to try and help out.
Also, the chance that your own child will one day need a bone marrow transplant is low, but as genetic research advances, there may be new indications for this procedure that to date we are not aware of. This decision cannot be made in the delivery room. It should be made at least 2 months before the due date.
They were the first company to do this, and they are the largest service provider of this procedure. They have an excellent web site. For more information, please call the Cord Blood Registry at 1-888-CORDBLOOD (1-888-267-3256).