Umbilical Cord Blood Banking: Useful Information


Most parents begin to plan for the future of their child even before he or she is born. They begin
investigating their neighborhood schools and may even put money away in a college fund. Relatively
few, however, realize that they should also give some thought to having their baby’s umbilical cord blood
banked for future use.

What is umbilical cord blood banking?

Cord blood banking is the simple and painless process of draining blood from the umbilical cord and
placenta right after a child is born. The collected blood is transferred to an umbilical cord blood bank,
where the stem cells from the blood will be filtered out and preserved for long-term storage at very low
temperatures. The purpose of this procedure is quite simple: at some point in the future, a baby’s own
stem cells could become indispensable for various types of medical treatment. By having them collected
and properly preserved at the time of birth, and privately banking them, parents can guarantee that they
will be available if needed at some point in the future.

What does the process involve?

Collecting cord blood is not regarded as a standard delivery room procedure at this time. Expectant
parents must arrange for it in advance, a process that generally involves answering some health history
questions and submitting blood samples for evaluation.

At the time of donation, medical professionals will handle the process from start to finish. Blood will be
collected directly from the umbilical cord and placenta, not from the new mother or baby. The collection
procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes and is entirely painless for both mother and baby.

How can cord blood benefit a child?

Most parents hope that their child never needs stem cells from his or her cord blood. Should their child
develop certain serious health conditions such as leukemia, however, the stem cells may be invaluable
in treatment because they can be used to grow new tissue that will perfectly match the child’s genetic
makeup. This virtually eliminates the likelihood that the bone marrow or other tissue will be rejected.

When tissues used in medical treatment are donated from other individuals, rejection is an ever-present
danger. Because the body does not recognize the new tissue as belonging to itself, the immune system
may attack it. This can happen even when close relatives donate, though it is more likely with tissue
donations from strangers. Using stem cells to grow needed tissue, however, means that the body will
accept the new tissue as native, rather than foreign material. Learn more about benefits so you have all
the information you need.

Useful information for expecting parents

Cord blood donation is a medical procedure and as such it does involve some level of cost to the parents
requesting it. In general, there will be a one-time fee for the initial collection as well as a yearly fee for
continued cryogenic storage of the cells.

New parents quite naturally focus most on their own child. Cord blood donation, however, has the
potential to help other people as well. Family members may be able to use the stem cells preserved at
the time of the child’s birth. A final issue to keep in mind is the future. The ready availability of cord blood
stem cells will help medical researchers in their efforts to develop new treatments and cures. That alone
is reason enough for many parents to decide in favor of a donation to a public blood storage facility.

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