Umbilical Cord Blood Banking

Many patients are interested in banking the cord blood at the time of delivery. This article will help the patients to understand the concept of cord blood banking, procedure and its use.

What is the importance of the cord blood?

During pregnancy, the umbilical cord is the lifeline between mother and baby. Once the baby is born the cord along with placenta get separated and are discarded. The cord blood contains cells called as stem cells. By preserving your baby’s stem cells, he or she will have a guaranteed source of perfectly matched cells in the event of certain illness in future.

What diseases can be treated/ cured through the transplantation of stem cells?

Stem cells are used today in the treatment of leukaemia, breast cancer, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s Disease, Aplastic Anemia, Sickle Cell Anemia, various other cancers, blood diseases, hereditary/ genetic conditions and immune system disorders. These indications may increase in future due to research in the field of science.

How can you use the stem cells from the same person when the disease is “genetic” in nature?

This can be illustrated by an example leukaemia. Leukaemia is not present at the beginning of life, but is developed by mutation or change in normal genes later in life. Stem cells in cord blood are “pure” cells, and are collected before any changes have occurred in their genetic make-up. Thus it can be said that when the stem cells are not affected they can be used for the treatment of such diseases.

Can the baby’s stem cells be used for a sibling? Can they also be used for a relative or friend?

Stem cells from a baby are a perfect match only for the baby or for an identical twin, and may be a close match for a sibling (1:4 chance). They can be used for a relative or friend if their cells closely match the baby’s cells.

When and how do you collect the cord blood stem cells?

The collection process takes place after delivery when the cord has been cut and baby separated from the mother. Thus it does not interfere with the birth of your baby.

The attending physician, nurse or midwife collects the cord blood utilizing a sterile kit provided by Cord blood bank. The collected cord blood is sealed in a specially designed package and is carried to the laboratory by the personnel from the cord blood bank. Finally, the sample is cryogenically stored until it needs to be retrieved.

How safe is this for my baby and me? Will either of us feel any pain or discomfort?

The first priority is the care and well being of the baby. Stem cell extraction is very safe because the blood is collected after the cord has been separated from your baby. Neither you nor your baby will feel anything since this procedure is only done after the cord has been detached. A blood sample will also be drawn from the mother.

Who can give us more information about this? Which company should we choose for the cord blood banking?

You can choose any company for this service. You can find the names and contact numbers on the internet. These companies have different products. There may be a difference between the schemes. Some companies offer insurance, some offer additional metabolic disease testing. We recommend that you should understand the scheme correctly including the financial aspects and decide about the company.

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