Cord blood banking could be a decision that greatly affects the future of your child or family. If interested, there is a ton of heavy information out there about cord blood and stem cell research. Here are a few (and a little more basic) explanations.
What is cord blood? Cord blood is the blood located inside the umbilical cord after the cord has been cut. It is rich with stem cells, what the Cord Blood Registry describes as “master” cells, because they have the ability to regenerate and form cells that create all other tissues, organs, and systems in the human body.
Why store cord blood? The unique and special characteristics of cord blood cells provide the possibility of healing some cancers or inherited diseases. Also, according to the American Pregnancy Association, cord blood stem cells are oftentimes less rejected by the body as compared to healthy adult bone marrow stem cells. If the family does not store their child’s cord blood, it is discarded at the hospital or birthing center along with the placenta.
How is cord blood collected? I watched one delivery with cord blood banking involved. The procedure was quite simple. Prior to delivery, the cord blood collection kit was taken out of the box with descriptive instructions about the collection process (this was taken care of by the nurse. The only job the mother/father had was to bring the collection kit to the hospital, easy stuff!) After delivery, the father cut the umbilical cord of his new baby girl. The nurse and doctor then drained the blood that was collected between the umbilical cord cut and the placenta into the desired collection bag. The bag was then sealed properly and placed back into the collection kit and mailed to the lab for processing and storage.
How to store cord blood? Cord blood is often stored in public or private banks. In a public bank, cord blood is anonymously donated to individuals in need. There are eligibility requirements for donors to meet, and donated cord blood must be delivered in a participating hospital for public bank donation. (If you are interested in public donation of cord blood, ask your doctor if the hospital of delivery is a participant).