Cord Blood Banking
Maybe you’ve heard friends talking about it. Perhaps you’ve seen some flyers in your doctor’s office. You might have even heard it mentioned on the news. But despite all these murmurings, you still aren’t quite sure just what cord blood banking is or why there is such a fuss about it. But learning more about this stem cell therapy may just save your life or the life of someone in your family.
Banking in a Nutshell
Put simply, cord blood storage is the collection and preservation of stem cells from umbilical cords. These stem cells can then be used at a later time to help treat a variety of diseases and disorders.
As all pregnant women know, the umbilical cord is what connects a developing fetus to the placenta. Through the umbilical cord, a fetus receives nourishment and oxygen and is able to remove its waste. Upon birth, this cord is cut and, in the past, normally thrown out.
However, in recent years it has been found that the blood contained within an umbilical cord is actually an extremely rich source of stem cells. On top of this, it is very easy to collect the stem cells from an umbilical cord, which is why parents are increasingly being encouraged to collect and store their child’s stem cells.
Collection and Storage
So how do you go from tossing out an umbilical cord to drawing out stem cells from it? Well, after birth, while you are enjoying your new baby, your doctor or nurse will take the now cut umbilical cord and drain the blood from it. This can be done either through the use of a syringe that extracts the stem cell rich blood from the cord or by inserting a needle directly into the umbilical cord. With the help of gravity, blood then drains through the needle into a connected blood bag. The collection method used will be dependant upon where the cord blood stem cells will be stored.
Once the blood is collected, it will be shipped off to storage, where it will be frozen (cryopreserved) until it is needed. Just where the cord blood is stored will be up to you. If you have chosen to store your child’s cord blood in a private cord blood bank, then the blood will be sent to the bank of your choice where the stem cells will remain in storage until the time you need to use them (if you need to use them).
Parents that have opted for public cord blood donation will have their cord blood sent to the public cord blood bank affiliated with the hospital they give birth at. If the bank you have donated the stem cells to is a not-for-profit bank, then the stem cells will remain in storage until the time that someone needs them, not necessarily you or your family. You should be aware, though, that some public banks are "for profit," meaning that your cord blood donation could be sold for stem cell research. Make sure you read the fine print when considering public cord blood banks.
It is important to point out that collecting cord blood is an entirely safe procedure that will in no way affect you, your newborn, or the level of care you receive immediately after giving birth. Cord blood is only collected after the umbilical cord has been cut and separated from your baby.