As the time approaches birth, a question may come up amongst your doctor, partner, or friends. Are you keeping your cord blood after? Cord blood is the blood from the umbilical cord and placenta. There are many benefits of cord blood, mainly that it is a source of stem cells that can contribute to the development and repair of tissues, and organs in the body. Cord blood stem cells have been shown to cure leukemia in both children, and adults. These stem cells
can help treat your current or future children if they are diagnosed with cancer, or certain diseases. If you do choose to bank your baby’s cord blood, it comes with a hefty price. But, some families find it worthy for their family, especially if they have genetic diseases. Often times the cord blood gets thrown away. So, if you do not bank it, then consider donating it to help save another person’s life. I wish I had been more informed and aware of cord blood donations when I had my children. The collection of the cord blood is painless and easy, and there is no cost to donate it to a public bank.
How Cord Blood Is Collected
The collection is simple and usually takes about 5 minutes. There are no risks to the mother or baby when it is done. Doctors can either use the syringe method, or the bag method to collect the blood. After the umbilical cord is cut, a syringe is used to draw out blood (syringe method), or the cord is elevated to drain the blood into a bag (bag method). Only 3 to 5 ounces of blood are collected from the cord. Cord blood can only be collected within the first 15 minutes after the birth, and processed by a lab within 2 days of collection. Then, it is stored in a nitrogen freezer, so it will last for a long time.
How Much Does It Cost?
As stated, you have two ways you can go about utilizing the cord blood; you can donate it to a public bank, or store it in a private bank. If you donate cord blood, then it is completely free and all costs of collecting, testing, processing and storing it are covered. When you store it in a private bank, it can cost anywhere between $1,400 and $2,300 for collecting, testing, and registering it. On top of these costs, there will be an annual $100-$125 storing fee.
Pros & Cons
When it comes to banking your baby’s cord blood, there are different things to consider when deciding what to do with it. Let’s start with the PROS:
- Cord blood saves lives because it is rich in stem cells. These stem cells can regenerate into any type of different blood cells needed in order to treat certain cancers and diseases that harm the blood and immune system. A unit may repair vital organs and tissues, and generate red and white blood cells. These stem cells are being used in the treatment of about 80 life-threatening diseases.
- Cord blood is flexible and does not require a perfect donor match. Unlike bone marrow stem cells who need a perfect match, cord blood can be used on anyone.
- If you pay to store your cord blood privately, you will always have access to it when you need it. The cord blood could be used for a family member or sibling that has a genetic disease. Approximately 70-80% of patients who have been treated for non-malignant diseases, and 30-40% of patients treated for malignant diseases are surviving thanks to the cord blood stem cells.
- There is financial aid for families that want to store their cord blood privately. If the baby has a sick sibling with certain diseases, some cord blood banks will offer programs that cover the processing and storage fees.
So what may deter you from wanting to store your cord blood? Here are the CONS:
- Banking your baby’s cord blood privately is not cheap.
- Cord blood cannot be used from babies born with genetic diseases because the stem cells will have the same genes as the baby.
- Your child or family member may never need the cord blood. It is estimated that there is only a 1 in 217 chance that your child will need a stem cell transplant with cord blood.
- Cord blood cannot be used to treat everything. For example, it cannot be used for muscular dystrophy.
If your family has a history with leukemia, certain cancers, and other diseases that could benefit from cord blood, then it would make sense to store it privately. Private banking is not cheap, and comes with a cost. However, if you choose not to store it privately, then instead of throwing it away, consider donating it to a public bank. Your baby’s cord blood could help save someone else’s life. My doctors never informed me about cord blood, and I never did research or put much thought into it. If I had known then what I know now, I would have donated both babies cord blood in order to make a difference in someone else’s life. If you want to store cord blood, just know that banks need to be notified 4-6 weeks before your due date. Talk to your doctor about your options, whether you choose to donate the cord blood, or store it privately. You can also directly call the banks in your area to notify them of whichever route you choose. If you cannot store them privately because of the cost, then at least consider donating it to save a life.