Now this is an interesting post for me to write because I’ve always been plagued by the guilt of not getting cord blood banking done for my kids. Basically, it was about cost. For many, it is not too expensive, but when you throw in the bills of running a home, the cost of pregnancy, maternity and all the extra mouths to feed as your family grows, it was near on impossible for me to use cord blood banking for any of my pregnancies. It is something that I would love to have done, and there will always be a what if lingering over me. Like part of me thinks if I had done cord blood banking perhaps I could have helped them later on in life to get better, if they were taken ill. Well it is too late to turn back the clocks. Unfortunately for my brood, cord blood banking is completely out of the question now.
Perhaps if baby number 5 was to arrive- it may be different, because financially I’m in a better position now. However, I know this is a topic that many mothers and fathers ponder about, and have no idea what it actually is to begin with. I’m writing this article to try and help those that are researching about cord blood banking and have actually been presented with the option. I can recall a few moments when I was sat in the NHS health clinic in Manchester, Levenshulme and there were advertisements on the doctors TV in the waiting room, pumping out information about the process of taking stem cells from the umbilical cord of my unborn child.
Now bear in mind I had just had a stillborn and was kind of swayed to almost go ahead with the procedure for baby number one. At the time It would have set me back cash that I really did not have. It has never been dished out to me so openly since then though, so I guess this is something that differs with where you are in the world, the type of clinic you attend- and of course just how well the doctors at your surgery are involved in outside work- and marketing for companies that provide cord blood banking service in the first place.
First Of All What Is Cord Blood?
This is the blood that is inside your babies umbilical cord. It’s not just any old blood however, as it contains stem cells that can be used to make blood vessels, tissues and organs. Currently there are a lot of successful clinical trials that have been conducted where cord blood banking has been used, to extract these stem cells and successfully treat those that are autistic, have brain injuries, and numerous other conditions that may arise later on in your child’s life. When you give birth, it is possible to have your babies cord blood collected and then put into storage for the future, should he or she fall ill with a condition where stem cells can be utilised to better the health condition. It is that possibility that has me feeling awful at the fact that I did not do this for my kids. It is a relatively new procedure and was once only associated with the rich and famous. Now , there are a lot of companies out there offering this for parents to be- and well , prices are obtainable I guess – If you have spare cash stashed.
What Does The Procedure Involve? Will It Hurt Me?
So, if you are thinking about banking some cord blood, you will need to know what the procedure involves right? One thing that a lot of people want to know is if it will hurt them, or their baby. No, It is completely pain free. The umbilical cord is chopped anyway when we give birth. It is the part that connects the placenta to the baby and mother, in order to provide essential nutrients when the baby is in the stomach. Once your baby is born there is no need for a cord or placenta! The person that collects the cord blood for banking will get some blood from the placenta and the umbilical cord when you have given birth. Inside this are stem cells that can potentially save lives. It must be noted that the stem cells in cord blood are completely different to embryonic stem cells.
There Are Two Options If you Want To Collect Cord Blood For Banking
- You will be able to donate your baby’s cord blood to one of the many public cord blood banks. Then, it will be on offer for anyone that may need it.
- Or, you can pay cash to have your babies cord blood banked with a private company that can be used for your family. Now, I feel kind of sad when I was researching this topic again because we did not do this for our kids, and a part of me also was so guilty that we could have actually donated the cord blood for banking, and potentially helped to save someone else’s child. I had no idea that that was possible- so that fact alone is food for thought.
So What Does The Procedure Involve?
When you’ve given birth, you will be so busy gushing at your new arrival that you probably will not even notice the cord banking person that comes to collect the blood to begin with! They will insert a needle into the umbilical vein part of the cord (the section that is attached to the placenta still) and then they will drain the blood into a bag, usually around one to five ounces of blood will be collected and it will not take any longer than ten minutes! The sooner this is done, the better as when left too long the blood clots and then it is no use to anyone. The moment that it is collected, the cord blood will be sent right off to the cord blood bank! It will be subject to some tests, and then it will be put into a controlled frozen environment and kept for storage. If it is acceptable for storage standards.
Why -Have Been Offered The Chance To Save A Part of The Umbilical Cord Too….
Now, as science progresses some of the family cord blood banking facilities offer the chance to be able to collect a piece of the umbilical cord as well as the cord blood. That is because the tissue of the cord, has stem cells inside too. The stem cells are different to those inside the cord blood, and at the moment there is a lot of medical research being conducted to see if these cells are in fact, going to be useful. With science progressing, it is a strong possibility that they will in fact be put to good use. So for a few extra pennies, this may be an option that you choose to grab by the balls!
I Keep Hearing All This Crap About Cord Blood Banking- But WHY Is It So Good?
It is so good because the blood inside the cord has a lot of stem cells. Stem cells are like the bodies bricks and mortar. The human body uses them to be able to develop cells, fix organs, tissues, and blood vessels. They can also be used to treat a variety of diseases.
You can also find them inside bone marrow, foetal tissues- human embryos, hair follicles, baby teeth, muscles, blood in circulation and fat. Each part of the human body contains stem cells, but they are nowhere near as many as needed to be able to harvest them for curing diseases. In patients that have leukaemia, for example, chemo is used to get rid of the cells that are disease riddled. Then normal blood production can begin again. When this happens leukaemia goes into the remission phase. Sometimes this can fail and the disease can come back. When this does happen, stem cell transplants will be offered as a mode of treatment for the patients. This is where a transfusion from bone marrow stem cells, cord blood from healthy donors, or peripheral blood is used to help the patient to be able to have a new blood immune system created. This will in turn give the sufferer of leukaemia a better chance of survival, and ridding the disease once and for all.
Stem cells that are in cord blood are not matured and therefore have not learned how to fight off and attack substances that are foreign to the human body. It is a lot easier to be able to match transplant patients up with cord blood than other sources of stem cells as the cord stem cells are less likely statistically to reject the transfusion.
Cord Blood Banking Is Even More Valuable To Those Of Ethnic Minorities
Statistically it is a lot harder for those of ethnic minorities to be able to find stem cell matches that are registered to donate adult bone marrow. In fact in 2015, twenty eight percent of patients that were Hispanic and thirty three percent of patients of African America origin that were participating in stem cell transplants took cord blood, as a result of them not being able to find donors.
There are also a lot of adult patients receiving cord blood transplants now. Sometimes even two donations if one single one does not have enough cells inside. By the end of 2015, over forty five thousand cord blood units had been sent out for worldwide transplants. As the years tick by, the figures keep rising.
So What Diseases Can Be Treated With Cord Blood?
If you do go ahead with this procedure you will be wanting to know what diseases can be used to treat diseases. Currently there are over eighty diseases that can be treated by using cord blood banking. Some of them are blood disorders, cancer, immune deficiencies, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, aplastic anaemia, and many, many more.
At the moment cord blood is also accepted in the medical world for treating sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia, blood disorders that have been inherited and are usually a lot more common In ethnic groups. They can also be used to treat diseases in infancy that can cause death like Sanflippo syndrome and Krabbe disease.
Can You Only Be Treated With Your Own Stem Cells?
No, not at all, you can actually use other people’s stem cells, this will depend on the condition or illness being treated. When the doctors utilise stem cells to repair the body itself, it is ideal to use the patient’s own cells as there is no question or doubt of the body rejecting their very own stem cells! However, if the body does make the wrong cells like seen in cancer and genetic blood disorders, then it is vital that the transplant is from a donor, not the patient’s own body cells. This is of course because the cells of the patient will most likely carry the very same defect that made the cancer or genetic disorder to develop in the first place. You would be putting the disease back into the patent, as opposed to ridding them of it.
More Studies Conducted Into Blood Banking
It is currently being researched to help those that have cerebral palsy and autism. One in 300 children have cerebral palsy in the US alone. Autism affects one in 63 kids today.
Diabetes and Hydrocephalus are also being treated with cord cells. Hydrocephalus is a condition where there is excess fluid in the brain, caused when there is lack of oxygen at the time of birth. Tests are also being conducted to see if cord blood stem cells can be used to treat congenital heart defects. If these studies are successful then in a few years we could be looking at them being readily available.
In Adults- Cord Blood Stem Cells
It’s believed that cancer suffers that are mature will benefit from receiving their very own stem cells in certain cancers, the very cells that were collected at birth. This is because in cancers that are not genetically based, the stem cells will help significantly to cure the disease.
A lot of the research conducted with adults that are using stem cells points the finger at bone marrow cord blood being able to phase out, and cord blood transplants being used instead. At the moment those that have multiple sclerosis , diabetes, stroke sufferers, neurological disorders and spinal cord injuries will be able to benefit from this research very soon.
Animal Studies Using Cord Blood Stem Cells
In Florida, scientists at the centre of excellence for age and brain repair have learned that stem cells helped rats that had spine injuries sand strokes. They recovered some of their motor function and when tested on mice, it was found that they were able to survive longer with Lou Garing’s disease. The symptoms were put on pause somewhat. At the moment they are looking into using the stem cells found in cord blood to be able to treat things like cerebral palsy and Alzheimer’s as well. Most of these tests are only on animals but they are very promising. As you will know, there are scientific breakthroughs every day!
It is confusing, and probably one of the longest articles you will have read. Also, one of the most important decisions that you will EVER have to make. At the end of the day though, if you do save your baby’s cord blood you never know when it can help out in the future You really cannot predict what is around the corner.
How Many Others Bank Cord Blood?
In the US alone there are over one million units of cord blood stored in banks. It has been estimated that around five percent of parents to be make the decision to store their babies cord blood. Out of the 5%, ninety of it is privately paid for by the families to put to use in the future if their child were to need it. Ten percent is also donated to public cord blood banks. It is a little creepy for me to learn this whilst writing as I also cannot help but wonder if there are units of my kids cord blood that have been banked and I know nothing about! If you are in the medical world, and you have access to cord blood- it would be all too easy to bank
Oh well, there you go, my attempt at educating both myself, and of course you about cord blood baking! Thanks for reading, please feel free to comment below. Let me know if you have stored your child’s cord blood, or if you are going to after the birth.