Medicine is constantly taking leaps and bounds forward. This means that new medical procedures and practices are constantly being developed. Some are more experimental than others and many are labeled by some as controversial. Cord blood banking is a new medical phenomenon that is designed to allow for unique treatments for illnesses. Cord blood banking is still in the infancy stages, but it is gaining a lot of notoriety. Many in the medical field claim that cord blood banking has the ability to transform the way in which many diseases and illnesses are currently treated. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of cord blood banking, but it is hard to formulate an accurate opinion without weighing the pros against the cons.
What is Cord Blood Banking?
Before you take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of cord blood banking, it is essential that you understand what it is exactly. Cord blood is defined as the blood in umbilical cords. This blood contains white blood cells, red blood cells, plasma and platelets. There are also stem cells that reside in this type of blood. Stem cells are so transformative because they have the ability to turn into many types of cells. They can morph into cells for the heart, skin or even nerves. Parents that have children are given the option to have the cord blood from their infant’s umbilical cord saved in a private bank. This blood may eventually be used to treat or cure certain illnesses. Many people are split on this issue and argue about the pros and cons of cord blood banking.
The decision to have the cord blood of your infant banked is not a spur of the moment choice. If you wish to have your infant’s cord blood saved at a private blood bank you have to take the proper reps beforehand. Before giving birth this decision is made, because the blood can only be collected right after the child is born. Since the collection process must take place so quickly, the plan for saving the cord blood must already be in place. In order to donate cord blood, parents must register with a cord blood bank and a collection kit will be dispersed to be given to the doctor or midwife. This means that any parents have the chance to donate and the procedure is completely painless for the newborn. The blood from the cord is not collected until it has already been clamped off. The entire process takes less than 5 minutes to complete.
2. Autologous Use
Autologous refers to using your own stem cells to treat specific types of illness or disease. If you have cord blood that is saved in a bank, you have the ability to use your own stem cells to treat diseases including anemia and a variety of cancer types. The reason that this type of stem cell use can be so beneficial, is because it has the potential to offset graft versus host disease. This is the condition used to define what happens when the body attacks the new cells. If your own cells are used then GHVD is not a concern. This is so important because GHVD can be fatal and is especially common when new cells are introduced to the body.
3. Family Members Can Benefit
Privately banked cord blood is not only a great option for the owner of the blood, but also for family members. It is preferred for cell transplants to be autologous, but this is not always possible the next best option is for cells to be used on immediate relatives. Many inherited immune system diseases and disorders can be treated with cells. Having cells that come from cord blood donated by a relative have a high chance of being accepted within the body. This is often the preferred course of treatment over using bone marrow from a relative.
Cord blood banking is not cheap. The cost of enrolling for cord blood collecting can be as high as $2,000.00. This includes the collection kit and the deposit. You also have to pay for shipping and a yearly storage fee that is close to $200.00. If you have multiple children with cord blood being stored, you have the ability to qualify for some discounts. Having cord old banked can help treat certain conditions, but it does require a monetary investment on your part. Of course these fees are for private cord blood banking facilities only. If you choose to have the blood banked in a public facility it is free, but it can be used by a need basis and you won’t necessarily have access to it.
2. Not easy to Donate
If you want to donate cord blood to a public bank, it is more difficult. Only large hospitals have these capabilities and they are pretty restrictive on the cord blood that they will accept. You have to give extensive background information and the donation process can be timely.