Cord Blood: Stem Cells Save Lives

When a baby is born, as joyous moment. However, most parents don’t realize to save the baby’s umbilical cord blood, which is often discarded. The cord blood contains stem cells, which can save the baby’s life, family member or lives of other family members. In a laboratory, stem cells can be grown to produce red blood cells (Carries oxygen), white blood cells (Fighting infections) and platelets (Helps with blood clotting and healing). The process to save cord blood, takes two to four minutes, which is painless and noninvasive.

The obstetrician, nurse or midwife, cleans four – eight inch area of the umbilical cord, with antiseptic solution. Then inserts the blood bag needle, into the umbilical vein. Blood flows into the bag, until it stops. Draining between three to four ounces of blood. Afterwards, blood bag is clamped, sealed and labeled. At a laboratory, the stem cells are extracted from the cord blood, placed into a reservoir, and cryogenically stored. Stem cells are accessible only by the family for future therapeutic use. The cord blood can be stored in a blood bank, for a yearly fee or donated to a public blood bank for free. Some parents store the baby’s cord blood, which can cost for first year’s fee $595 – $1835 plus annual storage fee $50 – $100.

Some cord banks, offer payment or financing plan. The odds that the cord blood will utilized by child or family member with a serious health problem, which requires stem cell transplant, is one in 1,000 to one in 200,000. Donated cord blood, maybe us used to save someone’s life. From a single donation, scientists are developing methods to grow more stems cells in the laboratory. Stem cells are used in the treatment of nearly forty-five life – threatening diseases, including Leukemia, other cancers, genetic disorders, blood diseases, and many immune system diseases. Research is being conducted, for use of stem cells treating heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and muscular dystrophy.

In 1988, a young boy in France with anemia was first treated using umbilical cord stem cell transplant. The treatment was successful. Since the first umbilical cord stem cell transplant, there has been over 2500 cord blood transplants done, around the world. When stem cells are damaged or destroyed, during cancer treatment or other diseases, cells can be replaced, either matching either bone narrow or cord blood, during transplantation. When stem cells are transfused into a patient, the stem cells travel to bone marrow, were they multiply and regenerate. Stem cell transplants have fewer complications, than bone marrow transplants from matched or unrelated donor. Also, less expensive, than performing a bone marrow transplant.
All the cells help create blood and repair immune system. The rejection of the transplanted cells, are less likely coming from a family member, relative or same blood type. The Institute of Medicine estimated that cord blood, could help treat about 117,000 Americans year, with leukemia and other diseases.

Deciding to donate cord blood should be made, by the thirty-fourth week of pregnancy. This will provide sufficient time to make arrangement, with your physician to be ready to collect the cord blood. This can be done, during a natural child’s birth or C-section. A signed consent formed is necessary, to be signed by the mother. The mother is required to answer a questionnaire, and provide a small sample of blood, to guarantee the cord blood will be health, and safety of any recipient. Time is essential to collect the umbilical cord after being cut, since clotting starts immediately, reduces amount can be collected. Women with cancer, insulin-dependent, diabetes, hepatitis, immune disease, are not allowed to donate. If the cord blood will be donated, then a search will be conducted through National Marrow Donor Program (Telephone: 1 – 800 – 999 -9674), to match a patient, which has same blood type, and heritage. Otherwise, the cord blood will be stored in liquid nitrogen freezer, in blood bank. Studies have shown, cord blood cells can be recovered up to ten years. Information regarding donor transplant, will not be made available to the recipient.

When selecting a cord blood bank company, make sure the business is fully accredited by American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). The accreditation ensures a high level of quality, regarding processing and storage facility. Furthermore, consider how many blood units are stored, and how many successful transplants. Blood bank companies that rarely perform any transplants, may indicate, physicians may have rejected the banks cord blood, which may have inadequate procedures for storage. The Company should be long term financially strong, and have procedures, in case any financial problems where to happen, their facility would be taken over by another blood bank. Further indication, financial stability if the company was affiliated with a large corporation, to provide funding for research, regarding baby’s cord blood stem cells.

The facility should provide twenty-four hour service, to pickup cord blood from any location or a bedside in a hospital. Within twenty-four hours the cord blood should arrive, at the blood bank. Physicians prefer a blood bank to store cord blood using Gravity Bag. This method designed to collect the greatest volume of cord blood. The greater amount of cord blood stored will produce, more viable stem cells. Also, Gravity Bags reduces the likelihood of airborne bacteria, from contamination during collection. Besides the primary storage capability, a small amount of cord blood should be placed in Aliguots: a small compartment for pre-transplantation testing. This does not disturb the primary storage area.

In 2004, Federal appropriations act (Public Law 108-199), made available initial $10 million, establish National Cord Blood Stem Cell Bank Program, within the Health Resources and Services Administration HRSA). The goal to collect over five years, an inventory of 150,000 cord blood stem cell units, to provide life saving stem cell transplants, for thousands of patients each year. The estimated cost for the program will be $150 million.

Cord blood banks:

Cord Blood Storage and Donation (Accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks) Public trade company – Telephone: 800 – 869 – 8608. E-mail:

Cyrobank of Oncologic & Reproduction Donors Incorporated
100 Crystal Run Read, Suite 102, Middletown, New York 10941-4041
Telephone:1 – 877 – 267 – 3253 E-mail:

New York Blood Center’s National Cord Blood Center (Oldest and largest public cord blood bank – nearly 30,000 mothers donated baby’s cord blood)
310 East 67th Street – New York, NY 10021
Tele: 866 – 767 – 6227 E-mail:

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