A new baby brings exciting new possibilities and a host of decisions. One of the most important decisions is whether to bank a baby’s umbilical cord blood and tissue. We’ve heard about cord blood banking, but we don’t really know why we need to cryo-preserve our baby’s cord blood.
Did you store your children’s cord blood?
If you have the chance to safeguard your baby stem cells, you definitely should. Umbilical cord blood and tissue contain stem cells, the building blocks of all other tissues in our body. Cord blood stem cells are used to treat nearly 80 diseases including cerebral palsy, leukemia, autoimmune diseases, and genetic disorders. Wow! Indeed, and actually as we grow older many of these conditions become more common, so the need for the stem cells may increase over time. In fact, over 30, 000 cord blood stem cell transplants have been performed. New therapies are emerging practically every day. Safeguarding your newborn stem cells is the healthiest investment you can make for your baby and your family. Cord blood can be used to treat your baby, siblings or other close family members depending on the disease. The chance of a transplant matching is much greater from a relative than from an unrelated donor, and transplant patients recover better when the stem cells’ donor is related. You should also take advantage of the opportunity to store the stem cells that are found in the umbilical cord tissue. These stem cells are a different type and hold great promise. They are being studied for future therapies for diseases that are more common as we grow older such as heart attacks, stroke, Parkinson’s, diabetes, and other diseases.
Are there any risks in the process?
Collecting cord blood and tissue after your baby is delivered only takes a few minutes and poses absolutely no risks to the mother or baby, but you only get one opportunity to cryo-preserve these valuable cells.
How much does it cost?
Collecting and storing cord blood in a private stem cell bank costs about two thousand dollars, plus a small annual storage fee. The bank safeguards it in cryogenic freezers for your family’s exclusive use. Financing plans make it very affordable.
Is there another option?
If you choose not to store your baby stem cells for your own family, you may be able to donate them to a public backing for use by others that have medical emergencies. Every year, there are thousands of patients searching for a matching donor in a public bank, and your baby stem cells could be the match to save a life; however, once you donate them to a public bank, they may not be available for your child or family in the future. In that case, you would have to hope that another match could be found in time. As of 2013, the cost of purchasing match stem cells from a public bank is approximately thirty-five thousand dollars and is included as part of the hospital fee.
But how do we know which private bank to use?
Give careful consideration before you select a cord blood bank. Check accreditations, success records with therapeutic use, and guarantees.