How Cord Blood Is Collected
Cord blood collection is quick and painless. After the baby is delivered, your healthcare provider will close off the umbilical cord using a clamp. Then, using a needle, the healthcare provider will draw out the blood into a sterile bag. This will be sealed before the placenta is delivered. Sometimes the cord is simply tilted to let the blood drain into a bag. Between one-half and 1 cup of stem cell-rich cord blood can be collected. This must be done within 15 minutes of birth.
In some instances, it’s not possible to get enough cord blood, like when a baby is premature or when twins shared a placenta. Certain infections may rule out cord blood collection as well.
Depending on the policies of your hospital and your health insurance, a collection fee may be involved. Check in advance to find out whether there are any charges you will have to cover.
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What Is The Purpose Of Cord Blood Banking
Cord blood is rich in stem cells that can potentially be used to treat leukemia, lymphoma, and certain disorders of the blood and immune system.
Some parents choose to donate their babys cord blood so that it can be used by others, while some families choose to store it privately in case their child or another family member becomes ill and needs it. For example, if a cancer patient receives chemotherapy, transplanted stem cells from cord blood can help regrow healthy blood cells after the treatment.
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Why Parents Should Save Their Baby’s Cord Bloodand Give It Away
- By Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
The blood left over in the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby is born has special cells in it that can treat and even cure some serious diseases. The blood can be collected and stored and thats what many private cord blood banking companies encourage parents to do, in case their child develops one of those diseases in the future.
The American Academy of Pediatrics wants parents to collect that cord blood. But instead of keeping it for themselves, they would like them to give it away to a public cord blood bank.
Cord blood contains cells called hematopoietic stem cells. These cells can turn into any kind of blood cell and can be used for transplants that can cure diseases such as blood disorders, immune deficiencies, metabolic diseases, and some kinds of cancers. Research is revealing more and more ways it can save lives. It is precious almost magical and absolutely worth keeping. Doing so is completely safe for the baby, and doesnt affect labor or delivery.
It is only recently that we realized how precious cord blood is before then, we threw it out. We still throw it out heartbreakingly often. There is some advanced planning involved to collect it, which is why we need to get the word out to everyone who is or might be an expectant parent, or anyone who might know an expectant parent and can tell them about cord blood donation.
How Are Cord Blood Stem Cells Different
Cord blood stem cells are similar to those found in adult bone marrow. Cord blood and bone marrow contain hematopoietic stem cells , which have the unique ability to develop into any of the blood cells in our bodies.3 Because of this flexibility, they can be used to replace diseased blood cells in people with conditions such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, among others.
Stem cells found in your babys umbilical cord are less likely than other stem cells, including those from bone marrow, to lead to complications following transplant.3,5 Two of the most frequent complications of stem cell transplantation are transplant rejection and graft versus host disease, or GvHD.3,5 GvHD develops when blood cells from the donors stem cells attack the recipients cells and tissue.
A unique feature of umbilical cord blood stem cells is that they can be transplanted in cases where the donor and the recipient are only partially matched.3 In contrast, bone marrow grafts require perfect matching in most cases. The ability to use partially matched cord blood for transplants increases a patients chances of being matched with a suitable donor.
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Why Cord Blood Is So Special
Swirling around cord blood are millions of special kinds of blood stem cells known as hematopoietic stem cells, which can develop into any type of blood cell in the human body. On a given day, the stem cells in your bone marrow make billions of new red and white blood cells to replenish old ones that have died. But if they make mistakes, the result can be serious, even fatal. Leukemia, for instance, results when the body produces too many abnormal white blood cells, which can crowd out healthy ones.
Before the 1980s, the only way to get a blood stem cell transplantfor a disease like leukemia wasto use bone marrow from a donor. But that can be a long and challenging process and can come with serious risks for the recipient . Cord blood transplants, which come from your own cord blood or a donors and which are administered similar to a blood transfusion, proved to be faster , less risky and in many cases, just as useful. They also became a boon for people of color, since bone marrow registries in the United States tend not to be racially and ethnically diverse, and cord blood doesnt require as exact a match as bone marrow.
Access To A Valuable Regenerative Resource
Advancements in newborn stem cell research are happening every day. Stem cells found in cord blood and cord tissue are helping to change the science of regenerative medicine, which involves repairing or establishing normal tissue function in the body, replacing organs, and curing life-threatening diseases.
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Evaluating Cord Blood Banking Facilities
You should count on doing some research to find a cord blood bank that suits your needs. The American Association of Blood Banks , where Dr. Szczepiorkowski serves as chair of the Cellular Therapy Standards Committee, evaluates and accredits many of the nation’s private and public cord blood banks. He also suggests a number of questions parents might ask:
Are you accredited by AABB or some other accrediting body? Accreditation is not required, Dr. Szczepiorkowski notes, but voluntary accreditation shows the company has met some set quality standards.
How do you prepare and store the sample? The AABB suggests that the white blood cells be isolated first and that the sample be stored in plastic bags, not vials, to lower the risk of contamination .
How much does it cost? Understandably, says Dr. Szczepiorkowski, the expense may make the decision for you. He also notes that higher-priced banks are not necessarily better in quality.
How quickly will the cord blood be transported to your facility? The quicker the better, says Dr. Szczepiorkowski, although the issue of timing is still a gray area. Ideally, the cord blood sample should arrive at the facility within 24 to 48 hours.
Private Cord Blood Banks
Privately owned cord blood banks charge a fee to process and store cord blood. Cord blood stored at private banks is not made available for public use through registries.
There are two types of private cord blood banks:
- Banks that store cord blood for autologous use only.
- The cord blood stored at these banks is only available to your child, and not to anyone else.
Grown up children and adults may need more cells to be transplanted than those contained in a single cord blood unit. Therefore, in most cases, even if parents had stored a unit for family use, it would likely not be sufficient for a successful transplantation and additional units stored in public use banks would still be needed.
Parents should be aware of the low probability of using one’s own cord blood for autologous transplantation, which studies have estimated are between 1 in 20,000 and 1 in 250,000. When a patient needs cord blood transplantation, cells from a healthy donor are preferred to their own cord blood if their cells carry the same genetic or congenital disorder that caused the disease.
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How Much Does Cord Blood Banking Cost
It varies. Cord blood banking can cost nothing if you donate to a public storage bank. Private storage banks can charge $1,350 to $2,300 for the initial collection, followed by storage fees of $100 to $175 per year.
A few other factors can also influence the total cost of cord blood banking, like:
- Whether your insurance covers the collection process
- Whether your doctor or midwife charges a collection fee
- Whether there is an existing family medical need, in which case some private banks offer free or discounted storage
Why All This Excitement About Newborn Stem Cells
Researchers are very excited about newborn stem cells from cord blood and cord tissue because these cells are at their youngest and most pristine state. Studies show that newborn stem cells can divide and grow better than adult stem cells and have better outcomes when used in transplants.
Now that you know more about why newborn stem cells are so valuable and the steps we take to ensure they will be preserved for the lifetime of your baby, will you be banking your babys stem cells?
Beksac, M. Is There Any Reason to Prefer Cord Blood Instead of Adult Donors for Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplants? Front Med . 2: 95. Doi: 10.3389/fmed.2015.00095.
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Only Chance For A Perfect Stem Cell Match
Cord blood is one of the richest sources of stem cells in the human body, and it can only be saved at birth. Cord blood banking is your only chance to capture the powerful cord blood stems cells unique to your child.
Saving your babys cord blood gives you peace of mind that you have immediate access to a related source of stem cells. When a stem cell match is needed to treat a disease, a family member is always the first option doctors will look to for a match. Particularly when there is a family history of certain cancers or diseases that can be treated with stem cell transplantation, the benefit of cord blood banking is similar to buying an insurance policy.
Best For Families With Medical Conditions: Viacord
- Pricing: Around $2,945 to $6,450
- Accreditations: AABB, FDA, and CLIA
Why We Chose It: Viacord allows for multiple uses without compromising unused blood, so its best for families with medical conditions. We also love the companys Sibling Connection program.
Account can be managed online
88% recovery rate
Additional shipping fee for samples taken in Puerto Rico
As one of the other oldest and most trusted cord banks in America, Viacord has been in business for 25 years and has an excellent record of success and customer satisfaction. Viacord has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, accreditation from the AABB , and is FDA and CLIA registered.
Viacords lab in Cincinnati, Ohio is equipped with the same quality freezers used by the CDC and the National Institutes of Health. Viacord stands out with for its record of successful release to over 450 families, and it’s are often the first company that doctors and other healthcare professionals recommend to interested families.
In terms of cost, Viacord charges families with a processing fee of $1,725 that includes the shipping and processing of cord blood and the collection kit, and a storage fee of $175 per year.
Viacords Siblings Connection program will appeal to any family who has a child with a diagnosed medical condition that is treatable with sibling cord blood. With this program, your child-in-needs eligible sibling can receive five years of free cord blood storage.
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Expanding Applications For Cord Blood And Tissue
Today, umbilical cord tissue, placental tissue, and dental pulp have all demonstrated intriguing therapeutic promise, causing storage services for these biomaterials to proliferate.
A surging number of cord blood banks are also expanding their service offerings to include:
- Reproductive and assisted fertility services
- Pre- and post-natal genetic testing services
- Cell therapy product development
Within the research realm, cord blood products are being offered by a diverse range of major market leaders. Within the therapeutic realm, clinical trials involving perinatal products are ascending to new highs.
Novel pricing strategies, product cross-sells and upsells, and ingenious online and offline marketing strategies are being implemented by the industrys market leaders. Meanwhile, new technologies to support ex vivo cord blood expansion are advancing at brisk pace.
Of course, investor appetite for cord blood banks has never been stronger, because cord blood banks produce stable subscription revenue from long-term storage contracts. At their core, they are both a real estate play , as well as an investment into the promising future of cellular therapies.
Whether youre a cord blood banking operator, investor, market consolidator, research supply company, cell therapy developer, or cell processing specialist, you need to be knowledgeable about the rapidly evolving cord blood and tissue banking industry.
Role Of Stem Cells In Healthcare
Today, stem cells have the ability to treat over 80 blood related medical conditions such as Thalassemia, Lymphoma, Leukemia, Multiple Myeloma, Neuroblastoma, etc.,
Over 500 clinical trials for conditions such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, Diabetes are currently underway increasing the scope of future treatments.
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Cord Blood Medical Need Program
Insception Lifebank Cord Blood Program established this program to offer compassionate support to Canadian families with a child needing a stem cell transplant. This is the largest program of its kind in Canada, with more than 500 participants who have benefited from free cord blood processing, and storage of the cord blood unit until the childs 18th birthday.
Approval is on a case-by-case basis on the recommendation of the treating Oncologist or Haematologist with the condition that the cord blood unit might be required for transplant within the first year of storage.
Best Variety And Flexibility: Stemcyte
- Pricing: Roughly $995 to $10,750
- Accreditations: FDA, AABC, and FACT
- Free public sample if your private sample fails
Why We Chose It: StemCyte wins best for flexibility because it functions as both a private blood bank and a public blood bank. The company also has a variety of payment plans.
$50,000 compensation plus one year in storage fees if sample fails
Tiered plans available
Access to free public sample if private fails
Public option is for donation, not preserved for your use
No guarantee of sample if you donate
Donations may be used for research purposes
StemCyte has been in business since 1997 and currently has the most racially diverse pool of cord blood inventory. The company offers the best of both worlds: they are both a private cord bank and a public cord bank. Thus they not only offer you opportunities to store your childs blood for future use, but also the chance to donate cord and stem blood for research.
Both AABB and FACT NetCord accredited, StemCyte has shipped over 2,200 transplants to date and operates on a worldwide scale, with shipments to over 350 countries. The company has successfully contributed to clinical trials for cerebral palsy, autism, stroke, and spinal cord injury.
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