Expectant parents leave no stone unturned to make sure that everything's rightly in place for the arrival of their child. From learning parenting skills, buying essential items to stocking the pantry, it's a long, messy and busy schedule. Despite being so active and alert during pregnancy, parents around the world are still in the dark about cord blood storage, while those who have a wind of it, refuse to opt for the procedure due to various myths. We’re here to educate you about storage options, expenses involved and the science itself so that you can make better choices for your baby and others around you.
What Is Cord Blood and Why Is It Such a Big Deal?
Cord blood is nothing but the blood present in your baby's umbilical cord. When processed and stored, it can aid in the effective treatment of more than 80 diseases - like leukemia and brain disorders. This is primarily due to the fact that cord blood is rich in stem cells. These cells can grow into just about any human cell and eventually replace entire organs. In essence, the whole argument boils down to whether you, as a responsible parent, would choose to store life-saving cells or simply throw them away.
What Goes Into Collecting Cord Blood?
The collection process is painless and will require only a few minutes of work. After the birth of your child, the umbilical cord will be cut and a special apparatus will be used to drain out the blood. The extraction process deals with the umbilical cord alone - so the mother and the baby aren’t subjected to any medical procedure. Soon after, the blood will be safely transported to a blood bank and frozen until a need for it arises in the future.
Storage Options & Expenses
Once you have made up your mind to store cord blood, you can either choose to store it in a private cord blood bank for a fee or donate it to a public cord blood bank, where people in need can make use of it.
Storing Cord Blood in a Private Bank
A private cord blood bank will store your baby’s cord blood for a fee. The main purpose of this type of storage is to assist your baby and family in medical emergencies that might occur in the future. Private banks charge a one-time processing fee, that will range anywhere between $1000 to $3000. From then on, you will need to pay an annual storage cost that will be around the $100 mark. Many of these banks offer a variety of payment plans, including an all inclusive payment for the next 5, 10 or 20 years. Over the last year or so, a number of consumers have been willing to pay an all inclusive, one time fee instead of shelling out interest in the longer run. But then again, this heavily depends on the financial credentials of your family and your priorities.
This factor, coupled with the growing popularity of stem cell treatments, have prompted private cord blood banks to come up with discount offers to make storage accessible to the masses. Several banks are willing to offer considerable discounts when you opt for a pre paid plan. Others waive off a portion of the processing fee when you harvest multiple cords.
It’s important to understand that cord blood banks operate with a lot of expense and risk. Quality storage and services won’t come cheap and ultimately the purpose should overshadow whatever costs are involved. But there are charity programs being run by a good number of banks these days, which will process and store your baby’s cord blood provided that a family member has undergone stem cell therapy in the past. Most of the well-established blood banks have all their programs and payment options listed on their websites. It’s easy to conduct a quick research on the web now.
Storing Cord Blood in a Public Bank
For whatever reason, if decide against storing cord blood in a private bank, you could still donate it to a public bank - where families in need could make use of it. Your donation can be of use to anybody in the world. There are 15 million cancer patients in the United States alone, and most of them lack a donor for a stem cell transplant.
An active network of public cord blood banks operate in the United States and donating cord blood to them is free of cost. Your doctor will first determine if your baby’s cord blood is suitable for donation, and once that is done the collection process will take place. Every public cord blood bank is linked to a registry, which stores all units of blood that are available to be used for treatment.
Doctors around the world can track and request suitable cord blood units for patients in need. The identities of your baby and your family are confidential and will be protected at all times. In case the blood is of a rare type, then it will be utilized for research purposes. Either way, every single collection of cord blood is going to leave a positive impact on medical science and patients worldwide.
Signing up for a donation is easy. There are loads of ongoing donation programs. First, look up the list of affiliated collection hospitals in your state. If your hospital is affiliated, then you can start the process with a simple inquiry at the front desk. If your hospital isn’t directly associated with any donation program, you can still sign up for an in-mail donation program. Make your intentions known to your doctor at least 10 weeks before the delivery of your baby. As we mentioned earlier, there’s an eligibility criterion in place and the hospital staff will need some time to evaluate your family’s medical history.
Cord blood could be life saving not only for your baby but for millions of patients around the world. Stop and think on this question for a while before you say no - are storage expenses a bigger worry than securing your baby’s future? More than 35,000 lives have been saved by cord blood transplants worldwide. The number is only expected to increase in the coming years. Would you like to be a part of this change?