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What is Cord Blood and how it is stored?

When a baby is born, there is some blood stored in the placenta and umbilical cord of the child. This blood is called Cord Blood and it is collected to preserve for future use because it has stem cells. Stem cells are very efficient in treating hematopoietic and genetic disorders. These stem cells are the same as those cells which help in the development of baby’s organs, immune system, tissues etc while the baby is in mother’s womb. After the childbirth, the umbilical cord is cut and the cord blood is collected.

  • The collection of the Cord Blood is a very safe process for both the mother and the baby.
  • If parents want their babies Cord Blood to be saved then they ask the doctor to do so.
  • Your treating doctor will attach the umbilical cord in two different places with 10 inches of space in between.
  • Then, with the help of a syringe, the doctor will be able to collect approximately 40 milliliters of Cord Blood.
  • The collected blood is put in a sealed bag to send it to the cord blood bank for testing and preservation.

What are the uses and benefits of Cord Blood?

Cord blood is quite helpful in serving a lot of purposes. The stem cells present in it are very efficient in treating the following diseases:

  • Cord blood is useful in treating patients suffering from different types of cancerous bacteria. Patients with blood cancer, lymphomas, leukemia can find treatment for their disease in their own cord blood tissue or if they get a matching stem cells from a related or an unrelated donor.
  • Immune system disorders like sickle cell disease and Wiskott – Aldrich syndrome can also be treated via cord blood tissues.
  • From 30 years, cord blood is being used in transplant medicine curing 80 different diseases. Now its use has extended and clinical research trials have been conducted to find cure for autism and cerebral palsy in cord blood tissues.
  • Recent studies have shown that cord blood can also be used for treating Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes and Metabolic Disorders.
  • Yet another medical use of cord blood is in treating various forms of Anemia. Cord blood transplant can help a great deal in increasing the count of Red Blood Cells (RBCs)/hemoglobin in one’s body.

What is Cord Blood Banking ?

The term ‘Cord Blood Banking’ refers to the utilization of the blood stored in the baby’s umbilical cord. Earlier this blood was not stored and rather it was thrown away. But now, the concept of ‘Cord Blood Banking’ is taking precedence where parents can ask their doctor to keep the Cord Blood of their new born to use the stem cells in it in near future. Parents wanting to store their baby’s cord blood are required to use a cord blood bank which is fully accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) such as Viacord.

Cord blood is extremely rich in stem cells that can cure a lot of health disorders. Parents have the choice of storing the cord blood tissues for their own baby or for any family member or they can also choose to donate their child’s cord blood to an unrelated person. There are two types of ‘Cord Blood Banking’ techniques:

  • Allogeneic mode of treatment: In this case, stem cells are received from an unrelated donor.
  • Autologous mode of treatment: In this case, the patient is treated with the help of their own stem cells.

Cost of Cord Blood Banking Information

Public Cord Blood Banking Free of cost
Private Cord Blood Banking $1400 to $2300
Family Cord Blood Banking $90 to $175 (Excluding processing fee)

The cost of Cord Blood Banking varies from public to private cord blood banking. This is shown below:

  • If you’re going for Public Cord Blood Banking, then it is an absolutely free of cost process right from collecting, testing, processing and storing of baby’s cord blood.
  • If you’re going for Private Cord Blood Banking facility, then for collecting, testing and registry of cord blood banking will cost you $1400to$2300. For per year storage, the cost ranges from $95 to $125.
  • Some family cord blood banks charge $1,000 – $3,000 as 1st year processing fee. Blood storing costs ranges from $90 to $175.
  • Various banks have payment plans where parents can choose from a no – interest plan to a long term financing plan with applicable interest rates.

What is Public and Private Cord Blood Banking?

Cord blood can be collected and stored in either public or private blood banks. If you wish to keep or donate your baby’s cord blood, you can talk to your doctor about it just 3 months before you are expected to deliver i.e. between 28th – 34th weeks of pregnancy, the decision should be made in order to avoid last minute hassle.

Public Vs Private Cord Blood Banking

  1. Public Cord Blood Banking involves storing of cord blood for allogenic stem cell transplants. Anyone who founds a matching donor can be treated with cord blood stored in public banks. Few public cord blood banking centers store umbilical cord blood for directed donation which means that if any family member, who has some cancerous disease or immunity related disorder, then they can be treated with their related cord blood donor. A mother donating cord blood to a public bank will be tested and screened first to rule out any genetic disorder or infections. The blood is then ‘typed’ if it is found fit for using.
  1. Private Cord Blood Banking serves the purpose of autologous stem cell transplants. Private cord blood banks reserve the cord blood only for directed donation i.e. for a family member. Thus, it basically means that a family chooses their own family line’s cord blood to get stem cells.
  1. Public cord blood banks hardly charge anything for the storage and maintenance of baby’s cord blood while private banks do keep and annual fee for storage of cord blood.
  1. At a public bank, the whole community can access cord blood but at a private bank, only the members of the family can have access to it.
  1. A private cord blood bank might throw away the infant’s umbilical cord blood if the family says that they do not require it but a public cord blood bank will always keep it for donating.

Can Grandparents and Siblings share Cord Blood?

Yes off course, Cord Blood has such powerful stem cells as can be used for treating any ailing sibling, grandparents or great grandparents or even parents of the child. First and second degree relatives of the kid can use those stem cells and any other relative requires going through screening first in order to confirm to be a perfect match.

  1. Siblings will have a greater potential for cord blood genetic match but still only a perfect 100% match is considered for stem cell transplant.
  2. Half siblings will have less like ability to be a perfect match; whole siblings stand a greater chance.
  3. If a sibling is suffering from any of these diseases, then they can get stem cells from their brother/sister cord blood cells – leukemias, cystic fibrosis, lymphoma, immune system disorders, phagocyte disorders, anemia, bone marrow cancer, hearing loss etc.
  4. Whether or not Grandparents will find a perfect match will depend upon the way genes are passed.

Is Cord Blood Banking worth it?

Like everything else, cord blood banking also have its own set of pros and cons. These are listed below:

Pros of Cord Blood Banking

  1. Cord blood is life saving: The umbilical cord blood tissues are a rich source of stem cells, so they are used for treating patients suffering from certain types of blood cancers, immunity related disorders, anemia. Cord blood has higher chances of matching with the patients who need it rather than the bone marrow blood cells. Scientists are studying and researching for more ways to treat some brain disorders. Clinical trials for autism are in progress at the Sutter Neuroscience Institute in Sacramento, California.
  2. History of successful cord blood transplants: Therapies done using cord blood transplants have proved to be very successful. Joanne Kurtzberg, the director of the pediatric bone marrow and stem cell transplant program at Duke University says, that in the last 10 years, doctors and researchers have studied a lot about dosing cord blood, how to pick up a matching donor and how to give care and support to patients undergoing stem cell transplants. These studies have made recent cord blood transplants way more successful.
  3. Cord blood is easily accessible: Patient’s own cord blood is always accessible if it is stored with a registered public or private cord blood bank. One’s cord blood bank is reserved for family, siblings or any relative suffering from certain kind of disease which is curable via cord blood. You can always go and ask for your cord blood tissues in times of need or you can also choose to donate it to someone who needs it more than you.

Cons of Cord Blood Banking

  1. Cord blood banking is expensive: The cord blood banking cost is very high, especially in private blood banks. Not everyone can afford to pay for it as it goes around $2,300 plus the storage cost per year has to be paid. So, the total cost of it becomes an expensive affair.
  2. Cord blood is disposed in most cases: If your Cord Blood Bank is in a public cord blood bank, then might be considered safe as it can be used to treat a sick child and can prove to be life giver but if we talk about a private cord blood bank, then they might throw it away if the family does no need any longer.
  3. Some diseases remain untreated: Joanne Kurtzberg is of the opinion that cord blood cells can only be used if the child is healthy. In case the child has some genetic disorder, then the cord blood tissues might be of no use to the patient.
  4. No use of cord blood in most cases: The founder and director of Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation have found out that there are only 1 in 217 chances that a child will need their stem cells. A child whose family has a history of cancerous diseases or some anemic disorders will require a stem cell transplant.

Top 10 Cord Blood Banking Centers Information in the USA

The finest 10 centers in the United States known for providing the best Cord Blood Banking facilities are mentioned below:

Sr No Company Name Location
1 Cryo – Cell Oldsmar, Florida
2 Viacord Cambridge, Massachusetts
3 Cord Blood Registry San Bruno, California
4 LifebankUSA Cedar Knolls, New Jersey
5 Family Cord Los Angeles
6 Carolinas Cord Blood Bank Duke University
7 StemCyte Live Oak Avenue, Balwin Park
8 P. McCarthy Cord Stem Cell Bank Detroit
9 Gencure Texas
10 MD Anderson Cord Blood Bank Houston

Cancer is a dreaded term which can drain the affected person both mentally and physically. But, a lot depends upon what kind of character the person shows, if a person diagnosed with cancer maintains a positive attitude, then that positivity is definitely going to make them win the struggle against this deadly disease. In today’s day and age, cancer is spreading like an epidemic because of the irregular lifestyle patterns we leading and celebrities are also not out of this list. Many public figures have been diagnosed by different forms of cancer, some got a new lease of life and some lost their battle to cancer.

Celebrities who survived cancer

Just like Cancer has hit common people, the same way, it has affected the health of many big stars in Hollywood. The Indian celebrities who had been diagnosed with cancer in the past usually chose to head to the United States of America (USA) to start off their treatment.

Along with chemotherapy, surgery and healthy eating habits, all these cancer survivors are said to have gained positivity through yoga sessions and motivational speeches conducted by the cancer centers they got treated at.

Below are some of the famous cancer survivors who put a great fight against this fatal disease and embraced life like never before:

  • Yuvraj Singh: The Indian cricketer was diagnosed with a non – malignant tumor above his heart’s artery. His cancer was in an early stage and was treated using chemotherapy at the Cancer Research Institute, Boston, USA.
  • Lisa Ray: In 2009, the actress suffered from a very rare type of cancer called multiple myeloma (a cancer caused in the white blood cells). Lisa was declared cancer free after a stem cell transplant. Born and brought up in Canada, she sought treatment in the US itself.
  • Robert De Niro: The American actor and filmmaker was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the year 2003. His cancer was detected in the early stage after which De Niro underwent surgery in December 2013 at the Memorial Sloan – Kettering Cancer Center.
  • Lance Armstrong: Testicular cancer survivor, Armstrong bounced back to his road racing cycling career in 1998 after being tested positive for cancer in 1996. The cyclist was treated for cancer at the Indiana University Health University Hospital, Indiana, USA.
  • HughJackman: The Australian actor – singer suffered from basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) and he first got treated in the year 2013. After that, the cancerous growth has been recurring and Jackman has got six cancer removal surgeries done till 2017 and the actor is well now.
  • Jane Fonda: The American actress who has many feathers in her cap, was diagnosed with breast cancer for which she was underwent lumpectomy in 2010 and was healing all these years but in early 2018 she was spotted with bandages on her face. For that, she revealed that she got a cancerous growth removed from her lip.
  • Giuliana Rancic: The Italian – American TV actress was diagnosed with breast cancer in the year 2011. She got double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery done in the same year. Later on, this cancer survivor founded a charity called ‘Fab – U – Wish’ to support other women battling breast cancer.
  • Stephen Fry: The English actor – comedian released a video in February 2018 announcing his diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. 11 adjacent lymph nodes and the infected cancerous organ were removed from Fry’s body to cure the aggressive form of cancer that he had. The actor is of the opinion that an early detection of the disease made him a cancer survivor.

Likewise, there are many celebrities in Hollywood and Bollywood who are known to have detected this deadly yet curable disease. All of them fought their respective battles with cancer, some emerged out victorious, but famous public figures like Vinod Khanna, Rajesh Khanna, Nargis Dutt, Mumtaz, Tom Alter, Paul Newman, Anne Bancroft etc lost their lives.

Most Common Types of Cancer

There are various rare and more frequent types of cancer that are known in this date and age. Some of them are given below:

  • Breast Cancer
  • Terminal Lung Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Colon Cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Basal Cell Cancer
  • Skin Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Melanoma

Types of Cancer Treatments

The treatment of any type of cancer depends upon what the stage and type of cancer it is. A medical procedure is followed accordingly. The most common types of treatments that are resorted to cure cancer patients are given as follows:

Chemotherapy through Drip System and Tablets:

In the United States, there are advanced treatments available for every type of cancer. Cancer patients are treated with either of the two types of chemotherapeutic surgeries available. One is, injecting the medicine(s) through the drip which takes about 7 to 8 hours and second one is through oral medication i.e. through consuming chemo tablets.

Radiation Therapy or Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is also a very crucial part of the cancer treatment. Sometimes due to chemotherapy, few cells become so active that they can harm the patient so in order to kill them, RT is done. Also, before the treatment for cancer starts, the doctors usually check as to which therapy out of chemo or RT is required to be conducted. This solely depends upon the intensity and growth of the malignant cells.

Blood Transfusion and PDT Therapy

These techniques and procedures are more prominently used by patients seeking treatment in the US. For example, Blood Transfusion is resorted to if a person is suffering from blood cancer. Similarly, procedures such as stem cell transplant, photodynamic therapy (PDT), Laser Therapy, Hyperthermia etc are used for treating cancer patients.

Yoga Sessions and Motivational Lectures to generate positivity:

Apart from these medicated treatments, celebrities are also encouraged to attend yoga sessions and motivational lectures in order to divert their mind from their illness.

  • Celebrities seeking treatment for cancer are given positive and motivating speeches about life and are also advised to meditate.
  • Most of these motivating lectures are usually given by the celebrity cancer survivors only so that their story inspires the one who is currently battling with the disease. Popular motivational speakers are Jim Kelly, Diana Jordan, Alan Hobson, Jennifer Griffin, Scott Hamilton and many others.
  • Yoga also helps a great deal in curing the disease and especially for the breast cancer patients, it works wonders. A recent study conducted at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA shows that regular yoga sessions help to relieve stress and fatigue.
  • The American Cancer Society strongly recommends to all the cancer survivors to do minimum 150 minutes of exercise every week, including yoga and strength training.

Cost of Cancer Treatment of Celebrities

There cannot be any viable figures for cancer treatments because the cost of one’s treatment for cancer shall depend on the type of cancer and the number of chemo rounds to be conducted. However, it can be rightfully said that the treatment of this disease is much better and advanced in the US. This is more so because the United States itself is an advanced nation in terms of health and hygiene.

The total cost ranges from thousands to lakhs if we talk about cancer treatments in India whereas cancer treatments in the USA would cost the patient in crores.

Let us have a more detailed look on the approximate cost depending upon the type of treatment in India and the USA:

Average Cost of Cancer Treatment in India and USA
Therapy/Surgery Cost (in INR) Cost (in US$)
Chemotherapy (1 Round) Rs. 10 to 15 Thousands $2000 – $3000
Radiation Therapy Approx. 4 Lakhs $4000 – $7000
Breast Cancer Surgery (Single/Double Mastectomy) Approx. 5 Lakhs $7000
Surgery for Prostate Cancer Approx. 7 Lakhs $10,000
PET – CT Scan Approx. Rs 10000 $5000 and above

So clearly, getting treated in the States is a costly affair but one cannot ignore the fact that the patient survives in most cases. We can find a large number of celebrity survivors in the USA and above everything else, what matters is the courage and positivity above anything else to become cancer free.