What You Need To Know About Cord Blood Stem Cells

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Storing (or “banking”) cord blood from a newborn baby can be helpful for treating certain health conditions for that child and others down the road. But whether you should store your child’s cord blood is a personal decision to be made on an individual basis. We at NSI Stem Cell hope the following information will help you better understand the process, benefits and costs of cord blood banking.

What is cord blood?

Cord blood comes from the blood vessels of the placenta and umbilical cord of a newborn baby. The blood is collected following childbirth, making the process safe for both mother and baby. Once collected, cord blood becomes a biological product regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meaning it can only be used for certain approved medical purposes.

What is cord blood used for?

Cord blood is a rich source of hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells with unique capabilities for treating illnesses and disorders that affect the hematopoietic system. Because umbilical cord stem cells can form into blood cells, they are very useful when transplanted to people who need to regenerate or regrow healthy blood-forming cells.

What is cord blood banking?

Banking cord blood is a way for families to save the umbilical cord blood stem cells of their newborn for future use. With cord blood banking, a special process is used to freeze the blood and ensure the stem cells remain undamaged and safe to use in the future. Cord blood can be stored by many years and can be an invaluable resource if certain diseases later manifest in the family.

What diseases can cord blood treat?

The stem cells in cord blood can be using to treat patients with cancers of the blood, such as leukemia and lymphoma, and immune system disorders such as sickle cell disease and Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome. Umbilical cord stem cell therapy helps patients to regenerate or regrow new, healthy blood-forming cells after theirs have been damaged or destroyed by diseases or treatments to fight against those diseases.

How can cord blood help with leukemia?

Leukemia is a form of cancer found in the blood cells. Treatment of leukemia through chemotherapy kills both the cancer cells and the healthy stem cells that form blood in the patient. Cord blood is valuable to a leukemia patient because, following chemotherapy, the stem cells found in the cord blood can be transplanted to the cancer patient to help him or her regrow new, healthy blood cells. The cord blood and its stem cells don’t directly fight against the leukemia, per se, but they are immensely important in helping patients recover following treatment.

Is cord blood banking covered by insurance?

Cord blood banking is not generally covered by insurance, though if an older sibling or another family members needs a cord blood transplant and the blood would go to him or her, some insurance carriers may cover the blood-collection costs. In all cases, you should check with your insurance company.

How much does it cost to bank cord blood?

The initial process of banking cord blood can cost between $1,400 and $2,800 — which includes collecting, registering, and testing the blood — but the payments don’t end there. A yearly storage fee also applies and can run in the neighborhood of $95 to $175, or more.

Can you write off cord blood banking?

In some cases, cord blood banking can be included in a tax write-off, but only if the blood is banked for use as part of a qualified deductible medical expense, meaning it is being used to treat an existing or highly probably medical condition. Cord blood banked “just in case” something happens in the future will not qualify.

Why should you bank cord blood?

When you store cord blood in a private cord blood bank, it is saved for your family to use if it’s ever needed in the future. For stem cell transplants to be successful, there needs to be a genetic match between the donor and the recipient so the recipient’s body doesn’t reject the new stem cells. If a child is able to receive his or her own stem cells from his or her own banked cord blood, it’s guaranteed to be a match.

Can you use cord blood for siblings?

Cord blood can often be used to treat diseases in siblings of the donor because they are more likely to be a genetic match.

Can parents use their baby’s cord blood?

In some cases, a baby’s cord blood can be used to treat a condition in a parent. However, the likelihood of a match between a parent and child is much lower than it is between full siblings because a baby gets only half of his or her genetic material from a parent.

How long should you keep cord blood?

Cord blood banking has been around for over 20 years now, and correctly stored cord blood samples are still proving viable for stem cell transplants after 23 years. Some parents choose to store cord blood only until their children are out of adolescence, but diseases can manifest at any time in childhood or adulthood. It can be a good idea to consider your family’s health history when deciding how long you want to store your baby’s cord blood.

Can cord blood be donated?

Donating cord blood can be done at no cost to you and can save the life of someone with a blood-related disease. When you choose to donate your baby’s umbilical cord blood, it goes to a public bank and can be used by anyone who needs a cord blood transplant. Cord blood can also be donated for use in research. Unfortunately, not all hospitals have an umbilical cord donation program in place. Talk to your doctor or a public blood bank near you to learn more about the requirements and process for donating your baby’s cord blood.
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* Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary. As each patient’s problem is different, each treatment must be tailored around your specific needs.
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