Cord Blood Storage – An Overview of Cord Blood Banking Process

About Cord Blood

The leftover blood found in a new-born baby’s umbilical cord after it has been cut is known as cord blood. The blood is special because it contains several types of stem cells which are generally found in the bone marrow of children and adults. These stem cells can only be collected once in your life, that is, immediately after birth. They are then cryogenically stored in liquid nitrogen for later use. However, a lot of cord blood is infused in the child during the birth process. The parents or the doctors involved shouldn’t attempt to collect a lot of blood by clamping the cord too quickly as the child needs an adequate blood transfusion from the placenta.

Pros and Cons of Cord Blood Storage

1.  Cord blood remains viable even after 20 years

2.  Another benefit of cord blood storage is that these stem cells can be collected painlessly and easily, unlike the stem cells which are taken from bone marrow.

3.  These cells can be used in the treatment of several different types of cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, etc, abnormalities in blood like anemia and sickle cell disease, genetic immune disorders.

4.  There are no guaranteed statistics about the use of blood. The child and their family may never need it. Or the blood may not be useful if there are genetic diseases or infections found in the child or mother’s blood. In fact, if the child is diagnosed with pediatric cancer

Available Storage Options

There are two options for parents to store their child’s blood, public donation banks, and private cord blood banks. In public donation banks, the blood is stored for anyone who requires it. It may also be used for scientific research. When you donate the blood, you no longer have any rights over it and it may not be available for your use if required later. In private cord blood banks, the blood is stored solely to be used for the child or his/her family. And if the family decides to discontinue the storage of the blood, the bank will dispose of it.

It is best to consult a physician before making a decision about cord blood storage. The decision should be taken in weeks 28 to 34 of the pregnancy. Private cord blood storage banks charge a hefty price for storage whereas public donation banks are free.

Most of the university hospitals and local hospitals accept donations. The blood, the child’s mother, and father are all screened for infectious diseases and any hereditary disorders. If the tests are positive for any disease or disorder, the donated blood is rejected. If no illness is found, the blood will be frozen in a controlled rate freezer and then in liquid nitrogen.

If you choose private storage, a collection kit will be provided to you and the doctor or the nurse present at the time of delivery of the child will be responsible for collecting the blood, and further storing it in the given container for shipping. The bank will then test for infectious diseases or contamination. The mother’s blood is also tested for any diseases. Then the blood is stored in liquid nitrogen until it is required or if the family chooses to dispose of it. Before registering with the bank, one should check if the bank is compliant with the regulatory authorities, and the safety and security measures taken while handling the blood are up-to-the-mark.

Cord blood stem cells are also known as cell progenitors, but only for blood. These stem cells can be used to form platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. The experts on stem cells have divided opinion on the storage of cord blood, but ultimately the decision rests on the parents.