What Is Cord Blood Banking?

What Is Cord Blood Banking?

Every time a newborn arrives into our world, they not only bring immense joy but they also bring with them potentially lifesaving cells called stem cells, which are found in the blood left in the umbilical cord.

This article will describe the fundamental aspects of collecting and using cord blood and why parents may wish to choose to bank this valuable genetic material.

What is cord blood?

When a baby is born and the time comes to cut the umbilical cord shortly after birth, there is some blood remaining in the blood vessels of the placenta and also the portion of the cord that remains attached to it, this is called cord blood.

Why is cord blood different?

Cord blood contains all the normal elements such as red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma but in addition, it is especially rich in hematopoietic stem cells, which are used to form blood and are also found in bone marrow. It is this essential added ingredient that enables cord blood to be used for transplant purposes and as an alternative to using bone marrow.

Treatment uses

The use of cord blood is on the increase and more than 80 separately identified diseases have been treated to date by using unrelated cord blood transplants.  Leading scientists are currently evaluating the possibility that stem cells found in cord blood may actually be able to replace the cells of other tissues such as heart cells and there are studies being conducted at the moment to establish whether cord blood can be used to treat other kinds of disease as well.

About Cord Blood Banking

Banking the cord blood is essentially what is intended to happen for those parents who wish to participate in the scheme for their future personal use or by donating for public use. There are two different types of bank that arrange to store cord blood.

Public Bank

A public bank will arrange to collect donated cord blood so that it can be used to assist with research or to help a patient who may need it during medical treatment. There is very unlikely to be any cost to you as the donor for using this service and after birth, the blood is collected but anonymously marked so that you are not identified as the source in any way. You should remember that once you have donated the cord blood to a public bank you will not be able to use it yourself at a later date should your child or another family member require stem cell treatment.

Private Bank

If you choose to use a private bank facility then you are in effect investing in the potential to offer a vital transplant option to someone in your close family at some point in the future. The practice of storing cord blood in a private bank for personal use is more commonly associated with families who have a history of medical problems or conditions that are likely to require treatment using a transplant at some point in the future.

You should bear in mind that there are fees associated with using a private bank and just storing up the blood as a precautionary measure could be quite expensive if your family history does not suggest that you are likely to need to use this resource.

Understanding the uses and benefits of cord blood banking will enable you to make an informed decision about whether you get involved and how best to participate in the scheme.

Alice Pettaway is a lab tech who works in the medical field. Her passion is blogging for a variety of different websites in her spare time. Learn more about how to choose a Cord Blood Bank.

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