Soon-to-be mothers always want what’s best for their baby, and if there’s something they can do to help the baby in the future, they want to know about it. Cord blood and tissue banking is an option many local mothers are choosing.
Cord blood refers to the blood inside the baby’s umbilical cord that has stem cells within it with the capability to grow into blood vessels, organs, and tissues. According to babycenter.com, cord blood is currently the subject of FDA-regulated clinical trials that explore their potential in helping people with autism, brain injury, and other conditions.
Stem cells can help repair tissues, organs, blood vessels, and a multitude of diseases. Cord blood is a valuable source of stem cells. These stem cells are still immature and haven’t learned to attack foreign substances, making it easier to match them for a transplant because the stem cells are unlikely to reject the transfusion. More than eighty different diseases have been treated by cord blood stem cells; including, leukemia, aplastic anemia, Hodgkin’s disease, and many more.
How the cord blood is collected is simple and painless. After birth the cord is clamped and cut in the usual way, then a needle is inserted into the umbilical vein where the cord is still attached to the placenta. One to five ounces of blood is drained into a collection bag. Next, the blood is shipped, tested, and preserved at a bank.
Cord tissue is the insulating tissue around the two arteries and one vein found in the umbilical cord, according to cyro-cell.com. Stem cells within the tissue was discovered in the 90s, and because cord blood banking was already established, it was simple to begin preserving the tissue to test it for possible therapeutic use.
The stems cells in cord blood and cord tissue are different and both work in different ways. Currently clinical trials are being held for the potential in cord tissue to help treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.
To bank cord tissue, a segment of six inches of the umbilical cord is cut and collected in a container of antibiotics for transfer to a laboratory for processing.
There are two options when it comes to banking cord blood and tissue: public or private. Public is when parents decide to donate their baby’s cord blood and tissue to a storing bank. Donating means if something happened later and your child needed stem cells they wouldn’t be able to retrieve their own back. They themselves would need donated stem cells.
Private banking is storing the baby’s cord blood and tissue specifically for the baby or possibly for a close family member. By privately banking the family is assured the cord blood and tissue are stored safely and at ready if ever needed to be used.
In a Facebook discussion on cord blood and tissue banking, Amy Kind said, “We did it as a just-in-case it was ever needed. It was a peace of mind in the end we couldn’t let go.”
However, the fees to private banking are high and make this option unavailable to some. At one company, Viacord, for one child and only cord blood banking it is an initial cost of $1,575 plus $175 per year, or $2,765 for prepaid twenty-year plan. For both cord blood and tissue banking its initial cost for one child is $2,445 plus $350 per year, or $5,530 for prepaid twenty-year plan. Fortunately, there is a payment plan option.
The price may be doable with one, but in the case of another child, “we skipped it with my second child for cost reasons,” said King.
Private banking gives parents the peace of mind that if something happened to their child, their own cord blood or tissue could help them. Yet, in cases of cancer or genetic blood disorder a person is unable to use their own cord blood because the stem cells are compromised, therefore causing them to have to be treated by a donor.
“We were planning on it with cord blood registry. However, they told us if our child was ever diagnosed with a condition like cancer we couldn’t use the banked cord blood. I thought it defeated the purpose in saving it,” said mother Pamala Stahl.
Cord blood and tissue banking aid in many ways. Public banking gives back to others who are in need and private banking gives the child the ability to use their own stem cells in the case that they need them.