Banking Your Baby's Cord Blood - A Serious Option for Pregnant Parents to Consider
Robert Sears, MD
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How cord blood is collected and stored
Months before your due date, the cord blood bank sends you a collection kit that contains everything that is needed for the process. The bank also sends your OB or Midwife instructions to make sure he or she knows how to collect the blood. When baby is born, and the umbilical cord is cut, the OB or Midwife collects the blood from the remaining umbilical cord and placenta (not from baby) into a syringe or blood bag. The process only takes a few minutes, and the blood is then set aside until all the birth excitement dies down. It can even be collected during a C-section. A family member places the cord blood into the pre-addressed mailing package, and makes one phone call to a medical courier to pick up the kit. Within hours the cord blood is picked up and shipped overnight to the cord blood bank. Once there, it is processed. The stem cells are removed from the cord blood, and it is placed into deep freeze storage. Collecting cord blood is simple, completely safe and non-invasive, and takes very little time.
Choosing a cord blood bank
Making the decision to bank our baby's cord blood was easy. Deciding WHOM we should trust to do the banking was a challenge. There are several private cord blood companies to choose from, and I spent days reading their literature and scrutinizing their Web sites. I even called each bank and asked some important questions. I was surprised to learn how different the various institutions are. Some don't store the cord blood themselves, but are just a middleman and send your sample to another company for storage. Some companies aren't even certified as a blood bank. And I was shocked to find out that some banks have never even had a single stored sample used for transplant. I learned very quickly that, like most things in life, you get what you pay for.
After all my research, I chose a bank that was, in our opinion, the best choice- Cord Blood Registry. Here are some reasons why we chose CBR:
CBR has more transplant experience than any other private bank. As of this writing, they have released 109 stored units for transplants. This was important to me because I felt if a bank has never used a single sample, how do they know their samples are viable and being stored properly?
CBR was the first cord blood bank to become accredited, and has a perfect record. Why is this important? Many hospitals won't accept units for transplant unless the storage facility is an accredited blood bank.
CBR currently has more than 260,000 cord blood samples stored, and owns and operates their own storage facility. They are not just a middle-man.
CBR stores their samples in multiple vials. This is crucial because it allows one small vial to be unfrozen and tested for matching BEFORE the entire stored unit is prepared. That way, if a family member doesn't match, the entire unit isn't wasted. It may someday also allow more than one person to use the stem cells if the entire sample isn't needed at once.
CBR is affiliated with the University of Arizona, a well-respected institution. This gives me confidence that they are a professional institution that has a long-term interest in stem cell research and medical applications. It also gives other doctors who are treating their patients with stem cells confidence to know the samples are coming from a reputable institution.
CBR is a financially strong company and has been storing cord blood since 1992. This is crucial because you want your samples to still be around in 20 years or more.
Deciding whether or not to bank your baby's cord blood is a personal decision and a financial commitment. But parents only have one chance with each child to take advantage of this technology. You can enroll anytime during your pregnancy, but the earlier you do so, the more time you and your labor attendant have to receive the collection kit. When choosing where to store your child's cord blood cells, it's important to ask questions and research your decision carefully. Make sure the choice you make is as serious about storing the cord blood cells as you are.
About Dr. Bob Sears
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