Source of information: Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation

Banking Your Baby’s Cord Blood

What is cord blood?
Cord blood is the blood remaining in the umbilical cord and the placenta after the birth of a baby.  Cord blood contains stem cells that can save lives. These stem cells may be used to treat blood disorders, genetic, and metabolic diseases.  Individuals with sickle cell disease may be cured with cord blood stem cells; this procedure is known as the Stem Cell Transplantation.  Not long ago cord blood was discarded as medical waste, but now it can and should be collected and banked for future medical therapies.

What are cord blood stem cells?
Stem cells can come from three different sources; bone marrow, circulating blood, and cord blood. The first two exist in all healthy adults; however cord blood stem cells can only be obtained and stored (banked) at birth.  Cord blood stem cells have the ability to grow into blood and immune system cells, as well as other types of cells.  Because, stem cells from cord blood do not have to be as closely matched to the patient as stem cells from bone marrow or circulating blood do, it is significantly helpful to patients of minority or mixed heritage due to the shortage of bone marrow donors who match minority patients.

How is cord blood collected and banked?
After delivery of the baby, clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord, the cord blood is collected. This cord blood is then shipped to a laboratory where the stem cells in the blood are processed and cryogenically frozen.  Once these cells are properly frozen, they remain viable for decades.

What type of banks store cord blood?
There are two types of cord blood banks, public banks and family banks also known as private banks. However, there is a big difference between donating cord blood and storing cord blood for a sibling or for future use by the donor baby.

Public Banks:
Public banks store donated cord blood for possible use by transplant patients; it is listed on an international registry by tissue type and is available to anyone in the world whose cells are a match. If you donate your baby’s cord blood to a public bank, your donation could save a life, but you have no guarantee that your donation will be available later for use by your family.  Additionally, there are certain criteria that must be met to donate cord blood. “Be the Match” of the National Marrow Donor program is a public bank that emphasizes recruiting cord blood donations from racial minorities. For more information click on the following link.
http://bethematch.org/Support-the-Cause/Donate-cord-blood/

Family (Private) Banks:
These private banks store cord blood exclusively for use by the baby’s family. The parents are custodians of the cord blood until the baby is an adult.  This is a possible option when a sibling has sickle cell disease. Family banks require processing and ongoing storage fees; this can range anywhere between $1300 and $2200 with storage fees being $125 annually.
Examples of family banks include:
ViaCord, http://www.viacord.com/about/giving-back/sibling-connection-program/
LifeSource, http://www.lifesource.org/?s=cord+blood+donation
ITxM Cord Blood Services, https://www.givecord.org/Public/Expectant_Parents.aspx
Stork http://www.stork.md/military/armed-forces-pricing/

For more information about cord blood donating and banking please visit Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation’s website http://parentsguidecordblood.org/reasons.php