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cord blood and tissue banking: what’s it all about?
When I was pregnant with Laila, I had heard about cord blood, (and tissue), banking and was so confused about it all. I also noticed that it was different for every mom I spoke to when I asked them what they thought about it. One friend who had her baby a year before I did told me it was essential for her and husband to do it since he was a surgeon and knew all the advances it was making. Another friend who had her baby almost a year before as well told me she thought it was a waste of money. Another friend told me she didn’t believe in it.
Ultimately, it came down to my husband and I deciding what was right for our family and what we believed. With my science background, I really dug deep when I researched its safety, efficacy and uses, as well as read numerous studies from medical journals on its advances and must say that it really has been researched and applied in its effectiveness. And since it is such a new advancement, it is costly, and remember, it is an investment, just like life insurance you wouldn’t put all this money into it monthly if you don’t plan on continuing it.
That being said, this post is for those who are just wondering what it is all about or thinking about it before having a baby. I am not a cord blood banking representative by any means and I also respect what people choose either way. These are just common questions, ones that I had, and basic answers I found from my own ob-gyn, medical books and from an actual cord blood bank. It’s always best to talk to your ob-gyn who can answer any specific questions you have though.
What is cord blood and tissue?
Cord blood is the blood that remains in your newborn’s umbilical cord after birth.
Cord tissue is Cord tissue is your baby’s umbilical cord, which contains mesenchymal stem cells.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells found in all of us and are considered to be the building blocks of organ tissues, blood and the immune system.
Historically, stem cells from bone marrow were first used to regenerate blood and immune cells for patients who had received chemotherapy for cancer in the early 90’s, doctors started using cord blood stem cells to treat diseases that had previously been treated with bone marrow transplantation.
Now a days, cord blood stem cells are being integrated in what’s called regenerative medicine, where scientists are studying the use of cord blood stem cells in treatments for conditions like brain injury and acquired hearing loss. They say the cord blood stem cells are the most effective since they are the “youngest.”
What are mesenchymal cells?
These are also stem cells that can form connective tissue like bone, cartilage and tendon. In laboratory studies that are now becoming clinical trials, they show the ability to heal spinal cord, brain, and cartilage injuries.
How is it done?
Collecting cord blood and tissue is simple, safe, and painless procedure that usually takes less than five minutes and happens immediately after birth. After the umbilical cord has been cut, the remaining blood in the cord and/or cord sample is collected. The cord blood/tissue is then shipped to the laboratory, processed, and frozen in cryogenic storage tanks for long-term preservation. This process involves the use of specific scientific equipment such as stirrers for laboratory liquid and fluid. If you don’t save it, it just gets discarded after birth.
Who can benefit from the stem cells from the cord blood or tissue?
Any family member can use them, but they aren’t compatible with just anyone, and parents have a less chance of a match while siblings are the most likely to be compatible matches, with 25% of these cases offering a perfect match. Of course, your baby will always be a perfect match to his or her own cells.
Does saving the cord blood take blood away from the baby?
The cord blood is collected after your baby is born and the umbilical cord has already been clamped and cut. The cord blood being collected is blood that would normally be discarded after birth, not while the baby is still birthing. Your doctor or midwife does not alter the normal birthing process in any way, except to collect the cord blood afterwards.
Can you still do it if you have a C-section?
Cord blood collection can take place after a vaginal or C-section birth and collection can still be performed after delayed clamping.
How long will the stem cells last in the storage bank?
The bank says indefinitely.
When do I have to decide on this?
The best time to decide on it is by at least your last month, if not sooner. While some hospitals have kits if you decide that day, making a decision like this is better beforehand. The bank usually does not charge you until they have the samples in their labs, so you do not have to pay anything up front.
What are my storage options?
You can either donate it to a public bank, (www.bethematch.org), for free, (it would help an anonymous patient in need) or via a private bank like Cord Blood Registry. If you do consider the private option, it is expensive, depending on if you do cord blood or cord tissue and blood, between $130-260 storage fee per year plus a one time collection and processing fee that runs about $1500-2700.
I do have a coupon for Cord Blood Registry- just mention coupon code Q4VJ, if they ask for a name just say Puja Shah, (of chai mommas), when you call 1-888-770-6105 for a $250 discount.
Hope this answers any questions you have!