Cord Blood Banking 101: Everything You Need To Know To Make Your DecisionMonica Bielanko
I’ve sort of floated on the periphery of the whole saving your child’s cord blood thing. I know it’s a brilliant thing to do as you never know when you’ll need life saving stem cells. I mean, people are having whole other children just to save the life of a first child. But it’s really expensive and I just don’t have that kind of money right now.
That’s why an article on CNN.com called Should You Save Your Child’s Cord Blood? caught my eye.
For once I wanted to sit down and read all about it and really pay attention. So I did and ultimately made a decision on whether saving my next baby’s cord blood is right for our family.
Here is what I learned:
What is cord blood? It’s what remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth, which is usually discarded. It’s rich in blood-forming cells that can be used in transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and many other life-threatening diseases.
How is cord blood collected? The process is simple, painless and usually completed in just a few minutes by your health care provider. It doesn’t interfere with delivery and is possible with vaginal or cesarean deliveries. Your health care provider will use either a syringe to draw blood from the umbilical cord after it’s been cut or will drain the blood from the umbilical cord into a bag.
How is cord blood stored? According to MazeCordBlood.com, cord blood cannot be stored in a regular freezer, it needs to be kept extremely cold, -130 degrees Celsius. Because of this, it is stored in a nitrogen freezer. There are 2 types of nitrogen freezers, liquid and vapor. A liquid nitrogen freezer submerges the samples directly into the nitrogen. A vapor nitrogen freezer uses nitrogen to chill the air within the freezer.
How much does it cost? Each private cord blood bank charges different fees. A recent study from the University of California, San Francisco, estimates the total average cost to be $3,620, which includes initial banking and storage for 20 years, at which point users must decide to either continue paying storage fees or donate or discard the cord blood. You can check out a cost comparison here.
Where do I find a cord blood bank? Private family cord blood banks are available throughout the country for anyone. This is a good place to start. If you do decide to store or donate your baby’s cord blood, you should notify the bank or hospital by at least the 34th week of your pregnancy.
What are the chances you’ll need that cord blood? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) estimates the chances of a child needing her own cord blood stem cells in the future to be about one in 200,000. HOWEVER, it’s been said that researchers are making progress in the use of stem cell treatment for both heart disease and diabetes. Those two diseases are very common, so use of stem cells from cord blood may become more common. Also, take into account the general progress they will make in stem cell research over the course of your child’s lifetime and the odds become a lot higher that saving your baby’s cord blood will pay off.
Babble’s Meredith Carroll chose to save her cord blood and her reasoning resonates strongly with me:
Ultimately we decided it was like taking out an insurance policy that we hope and pray to never need, but we never wanted to look back with regret that there might have been something more we could have done for our daughter.
Well put. It’s obviously something I think everyone would do were it not so cost prohibitive. That, coupled with the odds of my children ever using their cord blood, it’s not something that works for my family right now. Of course, if I win the lottery tomorrow, cord blood storage all around!
What about you? Like Meredith, is it something you save well in advance for because it’s that important? Or, like me, is the money simply too much for those odds of needing cord blood?