Cord blood banking is definitely a good decision, which comes in handy in case a child requires lifesaving transplant therapy in the future. But the total cost for cord blood storage is very high. Let’s check out its pros and cons.
Umbilical cord blood storage is a relatively new procedure in medical science, which promises to protect a baby from life-threatening illnesses in the future. Though it has been purported to be an ultimate source for transplant therapy in childhood cancer patients, a lot of queries about cord blood storage linger in the mind of expecting parents.
What is Umbilical Cord Blood Banking?
The umbilical cord blood is nearly similar to regular blood that is continuously circulated in our body. In short, it has all the three components that blood has, viz. Red Blood Cells (RBCs), White Blood Cells (WBCs), and plasma (blood medium). What is so unique about cord blood is the presence of stem cells that have the ability to develop into other types of cells. In the procedure for cord blood banking, blood from the umbilical cord is collected immediately after childbirth. It is then processed to remove unwanted particles, and stored under cryogenic conditions.
Both public and private blood banks provide facilities for preserving cord blood. For storing in public centers, the mother needs to go through a general health examination, and pass the criteria set by the organization. Those maintained in public centers are normally used for stem cell research, while some parents opt for storing cord blood in a private blood bank by paying the necessary charges. Before making a decision for this, understand the various related pros and cons.
With cord blood banking, the stored blood can be used as a source for extracting stem cells, when the child, his/her sibling, or any immediate family member is diagnosed with severe disease that can be treated by transplant therapy. If parents can afford, cord blood banking privately is no less than a lifelong insurance for newborns, who have a familial history of genetic disorders, blood cancer, thalassemia, and similar illnesses. Using one’s own cells reduces the risks for graft-versus-host medical complications.
So is the procedure worth the cost? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports the procedure of umbilical cord blood banking for families who can afford it. Not only for the child for whom cord blood is stored, the stem cells can be used for compatible siblings and relatives as well. It is estimated that every child has one in 1,000 to one in 200,000 chances of using umbilical cord blood in his/her later life. Thus, storing cord blood is a wise step towards ensuring a safe future.
The high price is a major concern for everyone interested. A trustful private blood bank may charge approximately USD 2,000 – 2,200 for the enrollment process. In addition to this collection fee, cord blood banking cost includes a yearly fee for maintenance, which comes to about USD 100. Thus, umbilical cord blood storage may not be affordable for every parent, even if it sounds logical for insuring their child.
Another problem is the need for proper planning. It does happen in families that the decision for banking cord blood is taken too late to be put into action. Ideally, one should contact a private cord blood bank when the pregnancy term is 34 weeks. This is because the collected blood requires an individual kit and special arrangements for storage. Besides this, the collected cord blood is a limited sample (about 3 – 5 ounces only). Hence, it may not be sufficient for use in stem cell transplants for adults.
Considering the high cost, this might be a hard decision to make. On the brighter side, chances of getting matching donors are high, as there are several public banks with facilities for cord blood storage.