What is Cord Blood Banking and How Does It Work?
Of all of the many decisions that need to be made before your baby arrives, affordable cord blood banking can be one of the most confusing ones – and that makes sense! It’s unlikely that your parents banked your cord blood, so they probably aren’t a source of wisdom on this topic. It’s still common to hear someone ask, “what is cord blood banking?”. And if you have friends or colleagues who banked their newborn’s cord blood, how do you know if they made the right decision?
At the most basic level, parents are choosing to store their newborn’s cord blood because it’s full of stem cells that can be used to treat close to 100 conditions, including cancers, like leukemias and lymphomas, anemias, and more. These cells are also being researched in clinical trials to treat a wide range of conditions, including autism, cerebral palsy, and diabetes. Because of this, hundreds of thousands of families worldwide have chosen to bank their newborn’s cord blood since the first transplant in 1988.
The actual process is fairly straight-forward – the blood that remains in the umbilical cord after it’s clamped is collected and sent to a lab for processing and storage.
That’s where the cord blood bank comes into the picture. Expecting parents receive a collection kit before delivery and take it to the hospital with them when it’s time for baby to arrive.
After delivery, the cord is clamped as usual. But instead of immediately discarding it as medical waste, a doctor or nurse draws the blood that remains in the cord into the collection bag found in the kit. That kit is picked up by a courier to be delivered to the lab, where the stem cells can be separated from other components of the blood (like red blood cells) and cryopreserved.
Once frozen, the stem cells can be stored indefinitely! Americord utilizes five-compartment storage bags, so if the cells are ever needed for treatment, only the amount of stem cells actually needed can be taken and thawed for use, with the remainder left in reserve for future uses.
Those that find themselves asking, “What is cord blood banking, and how does it really work?” are also frequently interested in cord tissue and placental tissue banking. These tissues are sources of other types of stem cells that are at the center of hundreds of clinical trials around the world focusing on treating different conditions, including autism, lung conditions, Type 1 diabetes, conditions related to bones and joints, and more. Parents frequently choose to bank these cells as well in order to give their family access to future stem cell therapies.
Practically, tissue banking works in much the same way as cord blood banking. In this case, the tissues a family wants to store are also placed into containers in the collection kit and sent to the lab for storage, where highly-trained lab technicians process the tissues to make sure the stem cells are safe and ready for storage.
On the whole, cord blood and tissue banking is a simple, easy process. All a family needs to do is identify the best cord blood bank that offers them everything they need for their growing family. You should always ask a cord blood bank questions ranging from processing methods and stem cell viability for treatment, to customer service and quality guarantees. Once a decision is made, a collection kit can be sent and we handle all of the details from there!
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