Cord Blood banks collect and store stem cells after the birth of the children from the umbilical cord. The reason for this collection and storage is to use in transplants for patients that have different life-threatening diseases, such as heart or liver diseases, genetic disorders, and blood disorders. The process of cord blood collection is explained here.
A collection of this blood can take place no matter if the baby is born via vaginal or cesarean delivery. The blood bank where you signed your consent form and filled out the questionnaire about your family health history will provide a special kit for collecting cord blood stem cells. That kit is used before the disposal of the placenta, which is also used for collecting blood and cells. Although the cesarean delivery is a more complicated process for the collection, cord blood collection may still be made. In this case, the amount collected would be smaller.
The collection of this blood is done within 15 minutes after the birth and is not a painful procedure. It is a simple and safe procedure for the mother and the baby and is done by the doctor or the nurse. There are two ways that cord blood collection can be done: syringe or bag method. If the syringe method is used, the blood is drawn from the umbilical cord after it has been cut. This method resembles having one's blood drawn. The bag method of cord blood collection yields as much as possible. The umbilical cord is raised, causing this blood to flow into the bag.
Some healthcare providers say that a closed-system bag is the most intelligent, providing fewer chances of bacterial contamination. The blood collection usually doesn't last more than 5 minutes. Make sure the syringe or bag has a label with the unique number of your baby. The collected blood should be processed by specialists in the laboratory within 48 hours and stored properly.
The collection process in itself is a very quick 15 minutes job. However, the cord blood registry process can take a lot of time. It is suggested that the parents-to-be register at the nearest bank at least three to four months ahead of the delivery date. This process is not just filling an application form; it includes an extensive series of medical tests to ensure that the mother-to-be's blood is free from infectious diseases and genetic abnormalities. Once the donor clears the medical tests, the registration process is completed. The mother is given the collection kit which she needs to carry with her to the delivery center. She needs to inform the doctor about her plans well in advance in order to avoid any confusion in the labor room. After the delivery, the umbilical cord blood is extracted and stored in specialized packets provided and the bank is informed. The bank sends its representative to collect the blood and couriers it to the preservation center.
A point to be noted here is that there is a minimum amount of blood stipulated for successful preservation. If the amount is less, then the decision lies with the mother whether she wants to continue with the collection or donate it for research. If the situation so requires, the stem cells collected can be processed for immediate use by another patient.
Cord blood collection is an important decision as it could either be a lifesaver for your child and its siblings or it could turn out to be just an expense for the next twenty years. Either way, people who go in for preservation, prefer to look at it as a family insurance. Fifteen years down the line, if you feel that your children have grown up without any problems and are not likely to need the cord blood unit, you can choose to sell it off via the cord blood bank to a needy person.
It is the blood collected from the umbilical cord and the placenta after the baby is born. It is, therefore, called, umbilical cord blood. Now, a point to make clear is that this blood is collected after the baby is born and disconnected from the placenta. Neither the baby nor the mother is harmed in any way. Neither does it hurt anyone. The entire process is completed within 15 minutes of the delivery to ensure the quality and the quantity of the blood collected.
You are not eligible for it naturally. You have to undergo a process called registry to be able to give the green signal to the doctor for the stem cells collection. Now how do you register for the preservation? Simple, but again not so simple! There are specialized centers where it is preserved. Register yourself or your spouse, whoever is the mother-to-be, for the collection process at least 4 months ahead of the delivery. Just a written note will not do. The mother-to-be has to undergo a series of medical tests, passing which, she will be eligible for the collection. These specialized centers are called cord blood banks. There are two types of banks. One is a public bank and the other is private cord blood bank. A public bank is cheaper than the private one. However, you will not have the sole right to the unit that you have preserved for future use if you choose a public bank.
If you are thinking about why one should go through all the hassle if bone marrow seems to have been working fine all these years, the reasons are many. However, here are the two main reasons. Firstly, research has proved that the stem cells collected from the umbilical cord blood are richer is quality and quantity compared to the bone marrow. Secondly, it is not always necessary that your child's siblings will be by their side in cases of emergency requiring a blood transfusion. In such cases, his own blood, his building blocks will be there to save him!
This procedure has its own advantages and disadvantages. You need to decide whether you want to go ahead with the expense or not. If not for anything else, you can donate your umbilical cord blood unit for medical research and benefit the society.