Author Archives: CordBlood

Private VS Public Cord Blood Banking Review

Private VS Public Cord Blood BankingThere are two kinds of cord blood storage facilities: public cord blood banks and private cord blood banks. These facilities perform the same basic function of providing a safe place to store precious donated umbilical cord blood for possible use in future stem cell transplants. There are a couple of very important differences between the two though that are important to understand.
First, what is the same?

The physical process of collecting the cord blood is basically the same.  In both cases the umbilical cord will be clamped, cut and the blood drained into a sterile container.  From there the blood is transported to a blood bank where it will be cryogenically frozen in nitrogen at a temperature of roughly -190⁰ Celsius.  At such a low temperature all molecular movement ceases thus ensuring the ability to use the blood in the future for an indefinite amount of time.

What’s the difference between the two options? The first major difference is the future availability of the umbilical cord blood to the baby, or family member who may need a genetically-matched donor for a cord blood transplant.

With a public cord blood bank, the child and family will be given no future access to the child’s donated blood.  Once the blood has been processed within a couple of days after collection, the donor’s information is deleted as a matter of privacy, as with any other donated organ.  This is important to consider if your family has a history of genetic disorders or diseases where stem cell transplants have been found to be an effective treatment.

If there is a chance that the child will need the blood later in life, or if a family member is in need of a transplant.  You should consider using a private cord blood bank.  Using a private cord blood bank ensures that your family will always have access to the blood, that you will be able to retrieve it whenever necessary, and that it will be a genetic match to your child.

Going the private cord blood banking route will cost you though.  Private cord blood banks on average charge between $1,000-$2,000 up front, in addition to monthly storage fees that can be in the $60-$100+ range.  Alternatively, using a public cord blood bank is entirely free.

Public cord blood banks are a great option if you are simply interested in making a donation that can help save someone’s life.  These donations go towards helping people with leukemia and other possibly terminal conditions.  It is for this reason that you can donate your baby’s cord blood free of charge.  It is important to note though that not all hospitals are affiliated with a public cord blood bank.  You can check that though by simply asking your doctor. In the case that your hospital is not affiliated with a public cord blood bank, you will have to contact one and work out a way for them to collect the blood, again, free of charge.

It is also worth noting that the requirements of a public cord blood bank are usually a bit more stringent than those of a private cord blood bank, as the cord blood is destined for a wider range of use outside the child’s family circle.  Rest assured though that your baby’s cord blood will go to good use.  If it is found that the cord blood unit is unfit for use in a blood transplant, it will be used for testing to improve the process in the future.

To determine if you’re eligible to donate blood to a public cord blood bank you will have to fill out a health questionnaire regarding your medical history and give a blood sample to check for certain diseases.  The process for using a private cord blood bank will be less stringent.

What Are Stem Cells and What Is the Value of Cord Blood?

what are stem cells

Cord blood is the blood found inside the umbilical cord, the nutritional “pipeline” between the mother and the baby in utero. Following the birth of a baby, the umbilical cord usually is discarded along with the placenta. However, it is now known that blood retrieved from the umbilical cord is a rich source of stem cells.

Stem cells are unspecialized cells that can develop into specialized cells such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell. They continually make new copies of themselves and produce cells that make every other type of cell. Stem cells are usually further defined according to how many different types of cells they have the potential to produce. For instance, a fertilized egg is considered totipotent, meaning it can give rise to all the different types of cells in the body. Pluripotent stem cells can give rise to any type of cell in the body except those needed to develop a fetus, and multipotent stem cells can develop into multiple different cell types. The stem cells in umbilical cord blood are considered multipotent, though recent research is discovering ways to regress these and adult stem cells into pluripotent stem cells.

The Value

Like donated bone marrow, stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be used to treat various genetic disorders that affect the blood and immune system, leukemia and certain cancers, and some inherited disorders of body chemistry. To date, more than 45 disorders have been treated with stem cells. Cord blood has therapeutic advantages over adult stem cells. Cord blood stem cells, unlike adult stem cells, are less likely to contain DNA abnormalities caused by sunlight, toxins and errors in DNA replication during the course of a lifetime and, in transplantations, are rejected much less often even though exact matches are not required. Cord blood is a richer source of stem cells than bone marrow, with nearly 10 times as many blood-producing cells, so fewer cord blood cells are needed for a successful transplantation.

How to Understand Cord Blood Banking and Banks

A free, unbiased source of information

Every expectant parent today faces a tough and irreversible choice:  Should you bank your newborn child’s cord blood?  If you are like most expectant parents, you are perhaps overwhelmed and confused by the choice.  On one hand you receive tons of marketing from the cord blood companies touting the important benefits of blood banking.  On the other hand, you’ve heard that there is limited medical value to storing your child’s cord blood and the costs are very high.
cord blood banking

Here is a quick summary of why you should bank your baby’s cord blood:

It might just save your baby’s or another family member’s life at some point in the future
You will only have one chance to bank your baby’s cord blood; the moment immediately after birth.
The cord blood collection process is simple, painless, and harmless to the baby and mother.
30%-70% of people who need bone marrow transplants can not find a match.  Finding a proper match is especially problematic for African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and people of mixed ethnicity.  By banking your baby’s stem cells, the odds of having a proper match for the baby or another family member improve.
Especially beneficial if a family member has a condition that can be treated with a stem cell transplant, such as sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, aplastic anemia, leukemia, metabolic storage disorders and certain genetic immunodeficiencies.
Future medical advances might allow stem cells to treat even more diseases and be used in more transplant cases than current medical practices.
I’ve tried to summarize the argument for banking cord blood as succinctly as possible.  To gather more information, you can click on the links of the cord banks on the left of the page.  Each bank has a detailed (although biased) argument in favor of blood banking.  
In addition, the following articles provide some interesting reading: