Banking baby’s cord blood is a relatively new procedure (new as in the last 30 years or so) where blood from the umbilical cord is collected at the hospital and stored at a storage facility for future use. Cord blood contains the same life saving stem cells as bone marrow. However it has a distinct advantage in that umbilical cells are considered more adaptable and are less likely to be rejected by the recipient.
Many parents consider banking the umbilical cord blood in the event that their child or another close relative may have a life threatening illness. However, the likelihood of your child having an illness in which umbilical cord blood stem cells could be used is probably quite low. Furthermore, just because you bank your child’s umbilical cord blood doesn’t guarantee that it will be usable when he needs it.
Another prohibitive factor is the cost. Parents will likely pay a few thousand dollars to buy the collection kit, pay for the transport from the hospital to the storage facility and then will have to pay an additional monthly storage fee. For us, the cost was so prohibitive we chose not to bank any of our babies’ umbilical cord blood.
However, now there is a new reason to consider having it done. Congress has just approved spending upwards of $15 million to help public cord blood storage places, expand their facilities and supply of cord blood units. The goal is to increase access to cord blood storage should a family choose to donate their baby’s cord blood.
Public cord blood storage facilities will be able to offer the service free to qualified candidates and it can be done automatically in the hospital after the mom has given birth. Funding will also be given towards a central data base to analyze the long term outcomes of patients who have received cord blood donations and funding will go towards research in new uses for cord blood stem cells.
If this option would have been available to us when we had our children, we would’ve taken it and gladly donated our babies’ cord blood. I think the less cost prohibitive it is, and the more parents who donate, the better the outcome for everybody. They’ve actually isolated stem cells that can kill leukemia cells. Who knows what else modern science could accomplish with the use of stem cells collected in this manner?