Researchers have discovered that cord blood, particularly umbilical cord blood is rich in stem cells that have the ability to transform into just about any human cell. That makes them and the umbilical cord blood extremely useful and valuable in treating many dangerous diseases and aliments like leukemia, other cancers, blood disorders, metabolic disorders, and immune diseases.
What the scientists have also found is that these blood products can be used to treat a baby later in life if they ever become ill with certain diseases and it also might later save the life of a sick sibling or relative. Banking cord blood is a way of preserving these life-saving cells that usually get thrown away after birth and many families are being asked to consider saving and banking their baby’s umbilical cord for that exact reason.
Here is some information about cord blood banking to help you decide whether that is the right decision for your family.
1. Umbilical Cord
The umbilical cord connects a mother and her baby as one end is connected to the placenta and the other to the baby. It allows oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s bloodstream is be carried to the baby. It also delivers antibodies to the baby near the end of the pregnancy. As a result, it provides the baby with a level of immunity from infections for the first 3 months of their birth. Inside the cord itself is a vein that the blood and nutrients and arteries that return deoxygenated blood and waste products, such as carbon dioxide, back to the placenta.
2. Blood Vessels
These blood vessels are enclosed and protected by a sticky substance called Wharton’s jelly and there no nerves in the umbilical cord, so when it is cut, there is no pain. Cord blood is the blood in a baby’s umbilical cord and as noted above it contains stem cells that can grow into blood vessels, organs, and tissues. The umbilical cord is taken right after the baby is born, the cord is clamped and cut, and then the cord blood is removed and placed immediately into storage.
3. Cord Blood
Once the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut, the cord is wiped with an antiseptic. A needle is inserted into one of the veins in the umbilical cord and then the remaining blood is drawn into a syringe or drained into a collection bag.
Approximately about 60ml or 2 ounces of cord blood is usually collected. This blood must be collected within 15 minutes following birth and needs to be processed by the laboratory within 48 hours of collection. Cord blood is then frozen in cryogenic storage tanks and can be available for extraction and use in treatment at any time in the future.
4. Blood Banking
There are two main choice when it comes to banking cord blood products. Your doctor can give advice about the best options of either banking with a private cord blood bank or donating to a public cord blood bank. The difference between these options is that a private cord blood bank will hold the products for the exclusive use of your baby or other family members. If one of them becomes ill from a disease that requires stem cell treatment, they could be treated with this cord blood.
If you choose to donate your baby’s cord blood to a public cord blood bank, it would become available to anyone in the public who required a stem cell treatment. Cord blood banking is free if you donate to a public facility. On the other hand, there is a charge to store your baby’s cord blood with a private facility. That usually means a one-time fee for the initial storage and then a monthly or yearly charge after that.