What is Cord Blood Banking?

Cord blood banking refers to obtaining and storing the blood which contains stem cells from your child’s umbilical cord

What are stem cells?

Stem cells, as defined by Women’s Health UK, are

  • Unspecialized cells, that is, they do not have the ability to perform specific functions (e.g. ability to contract and relax like cell muscles, or secrete hormones into the blood stream like endocrine gland cells).
  • Cells that have the ability to proliferate for long periods, meaning they can divide several times to create a million more stem cells.
  • Cells have the capacity to differentiate into specialized cells such as muscle cells, nerve cells or blood cells.

Stem cells are important because they can be used to treat a number of diseases and conditions, with that list getting longer as experts discover new and better ways to utilize them.

Cord blood banking: two choices

Parents who are considering cord blood banking have two choices: store their child’s cord blood privately or donate them to a public bank.

Private storage

The biggest thing to consider about private storage is the price. The initial cost will cost you an arm and leg, but you must consider what goes into a bank or company’s pricing.

Donation

For couples who are willing to donate, their problem lies in the lack of access. When a couple has decided to donate their child’s cord blood, they often find that the hospital they’ve chosen to give birth does not participate in a cord blood banking program.

What is involved when performing a transplant?

Should there come a time when a member of your family needs a stem cell transplant, you should know that there are a lot of things involved in a transplant including:

  • A suitable match
  • How the stem cells found were prepared
  • Potential side effects
  • Complications

Knowing the answer to these questions can help a lot when considering donation or private banking.