Why would I store my baby’s blood?
The cord blood of your baby has abundant amounts of "stem cells". Stem cells function as dominant cells because they contribute to the development of all tissues, organs, and systems in the body. Stem cells can transform into other types of cells in the body and create new growth and development; they are the building block of the immune system. This transformation of cells provides physicians with a way to treat leukemia and some inherited disorders. (More diseases and conditions treated by stem cells.) Cord blood stem cells have the same ability to treat diseases as bone marrow, however, there is significantly less rejection.
What is the difference between private and public cord blood banks?
When you are banking your baby’s blood and stem cells in a private cord blood bank, only your child or a family member can access the blood. The chance that you will need to access your baby’s stem cells to address a medical problem is very low, but donating cord blood to a public cord blood bank ensures that your baby's blood helps save other people's life. Storing cord blood in a public cord blood bank can help people with leukemia and other diseases. Thousands of people's life's have been saved from public cord blood banks. Using a private cord blood bank may give some people peace of mind that this valuable resource is there if you need it. The stem cells from your baby’s cord blood may also be able to treat certain diseases or conditions of a parent or sibling.
How is cord blood collected?
After the delivery of the baby, the umbilical cord is usually clamped and cut. Collecting umbilical cord blood begins after the cutting of the umbilical cord. The cord blood collection process is simple, safe, and painless. It is usually completed in less than five minutes by your health care provider. Cord blood collection does not interfere with delivery and is possible with vaginal or cesarean deliveries. Your health care provider will use one of two options for cord blood collection: syringe method or bag method.
- Syringe method: a syringe is used to draw blood from the umbilical cord shortly after the umbilical cord has been cut. The process is basically the same as drawing blood for a blood test.
- Bag method: the umbilical cord is elevated to cause the blood to drain into a bag.
The syringe or bag should be pre-labeled with a unique number that represents your baby. Cord blood may only be collected during the first 15 minutes following the birth and should be processed by the laboratory within 48 hours.
What happens to the cord blood once it has been collected?
Your baby’s cord blood will be processed and stored in a laboratory facility often referred to as a blood bank. The cord blood should be processed and stored in a facility that has been accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) for handling hematopoietic stem cells.
What are the health risks to the mother or to the baby?
There are no health risks related to cord blood collection. Cord blood is retrieved from the umbilical cord after it has been cut, preventing any pain, discomfort, or harm. Cord blood collection is safe.
How much does cord blood banking cost?
Public cord banking is usually free. You do not have to pay to make your baby's umbilical cord blood accessible to thousands of other people in need. There are usually two fees associated with private cord blood banking. The first is the initial fee which includes enrollment, collection, and storage for at least the first year, and the second is an annual storage fee. Some facilities offer a variety of options for the initial fee with predetermined periods of storage. The initial fee can vary a lot and can range upwards of $ 1,000 depending on the private blood bank used. Annual storage fees beyond the initial storage fee are approximately $100.
It is quite common for storage facilities to offer prepaid plans at a discount and payment plans to make the initial storage easier on you and your family.
What if I want to donate my baby's cord blood?
Your baby’s cord blood could be a valuable resource for another family. Whether it is through foundations, non-profit blood banks, or medical institutions, there are numerous locations that would collect, process, and use the stem cells from your baby’s cord blood to help other people. There are no costs to you, and it is just like donating blood. If you do not choose to store your baby’s blood in a private cord blood bank, seriously consider other cord blood options. Your donation of cord blood could make a difference in someone else’s life.