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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