Cord blood, or umbilical cord blood, is the blood remaining in your baby’s umbilical cord following birth. It is a rich, non-controversial source of stem cells that must be collected at the time of birth.
Stem cells are the building blocks of our blood and immune systems. They are found throughout the body including bone marrow, cord blood and peripheral blood. They are particularly powerful because they have the ability to treat, repair, and/or replace damaged cells in the body. Cord blood stem cells have been used successfully in the treatment of over 70 diseases. Banking your baby’s cord blood can offer peace of mind that stem cells are readily available should you need them. Transplants using cord blood from a related person are twice as successful as transplants using cord blood from someone who is not related.
The collection of cord blood is safe, easy and painless for the mother and the baby. After the baby is born, but before the placenta is delivered, your doctor will clean a 4-8 inch area of the umbilical cord with antiseptic solution and insert a needle connected to a blood bag into the umbilical vein. The blood flows into the bag until the umbilical vein is emptied. The blood bag is sealed, labeled and shipped to a processing lab. The collection itself takes just a few minutes. Stem cells can still be viable after 15 years of storage.
Your baby’s cord blood stem cells have the potential to be used by the child, and, if there is an adequate match, by siblings and sometimes parents. Updated statistics show there is a chance of 1 in 217 for any individual to undergo a stem cell transplant by age 70.
The cost of preserving cord blood depends on the company you use. The general cost for cord blood preservation has a one time charge of around $2200 and an annual storage fee of about $125. Many companies offer extended payment plans.
There are several national cord blood banks that are free. These are public banks that collect and store cord blood at no cost but are not privatized for your personal use. Rather, anyone can use your stored cord blood and there is no guarantee it will still be available if you were to need it in the future. However, you can be confident that your cord blood will be put to good use to help treat over 70 life threatening illnesses. You can find more information on the websites below: