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Donating cord blood to a public cord blood bank involves talking with your doctor or midwife about your decision to donate and then calling a cord blood bank (if donation can be done at your hospital). Upon arriving at the hospital, tell the labor and delivery nurse that you are donating umbilical cord blood.
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For example, if your baby were born with a genetic condition, such as spina bifida, her stem cells would carry this condition as well and therefore couldn’t be used to treat her. Similarly with leukemia, the stem cells may already have pre-leukemic changes.
During pregnancy, the placenta and blood within it serve as the lifeline of nourishment from mother to baby through the umbilical cord. Following the birth, these items are usually discarded. However, cord blood is a rich source of adult stem cells, similar to those found in bone marrow. These blood-forming stem cells create all of a person’s blood cells: red cells that carry oxygen, white cells that fight disease, and platelets that help blood clot. It is because of this multipurpose functionality that cord blood is capable of treating more than 80 different diseases, and has saved thousands of lives.
The decision to bank your child’s cord blood is a personal one. Some parents believe the potential benefits are too few to justify the cost, or lose the advantages of delayed cord clamping; others believe it’s a worthwhile investment.
The St. Louis Cord Blood Bank does not participate in any activities that are designed to promote human cloning or the creation of human embryos for the specific purpose of producing embryonic stem cells for research.
If a sibling of a child whose cord blood you banked needs a transplant, then your chances of a match will be far higher than turning to the public. However, the safest bet is to bank the cord blood of all your children, safeguarding them against a number of diseases and ensuring a genetic match if necessary.
Because the body’s immune system is designed to find and get rid of what it believes to be outside contaminants, stem cells and other cells of the immune system cannot be transfused into just anyone. For stem cell transfusions of any type, the body’s immune system can mistakenly start attacking the patient’s own body. This is known as graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) and is a big problem post-transplant. GvHD can be isolated and minimal, but it can also be acute, chronic and even deadly.
Parents who wish to donate cord blood are limited by whether there is a public bank that collects donations from the hospital or clinic where their baby will be born. Search our list of public banks in your country. Parents who wish to store cord blood and/or cord tissue for their family can find and compare private banks in your country. Family banks usually offer payment plans or insurance policies to lower the cost of cord blood banking.
Sign a consent form to donate. This consent form says that the donated cord blood may be used by any patient needing a transplant. If the cord blood cannot be used for transplantation, it may be used in research studies or thrown away. These studies help future patients have a more successful transplant.
Cord blood is easier to match than blood stem cells from other parts of the body. Cells from cord blood are also less mature than cells from an adult’s bone marrow, so the recipient’s body is less likely to reject them.
If siblings are a genetic match, a cord blood transplant is a simple procedure that is FDA approved to treat over 80 diseases. However, there are a few considerations you should make before deciding to only bank one of your children’s blood:
The mother signs an informed consent which gives a “public” cord blood bank permission to collect the cord blood after birth and to list it on a database that can be searched by doctors on behalf of patients.  The cord blood is listed purely by its genetic type, with no information about the identity of the donor. In the United States, Be The Match maintains a national network of public cord blood banks and registered cord blood donations. However, all the donation registries around the world cooperate with each other, so that a patient who one day benefits from your child’s cord blood may come from anywhere. It is truly a gift to the benefit of humankind.
You certainly should, especially if you have a family history of any diseases or conditions that could be treated with cord blood stem cells. Since there is only a 25% chance of a match, you should bank the cord blood of each individual child if you have the means.
The entire procedure is noninvasive, painless and does not interfere with the birthing process. If at any time your physician or midwife becomes concerned about the health of you or your baby, the cord blood collection will not take place.
It varies. Cord blood banking can be free, or it can cost a few thousand dollars or more. How much you pay will depend on several different factors, like whether your insurance covers the collection process, whether your doctor or midwife charges a collection fee, whether you opt for a public storage bank (which is free) or private storage bank (which can cost a couple thousand dollars or more), or whether there is an existing family medical need (in which case some private banks offer free or discounted storage).
Deciding on banking cord blood, either publicly or privately, is not a decision that should be made in the spur of the moment. What you decide to do with the cord blood should be part of the overall birthing plan. Let your doctor know what your preference happens to be. Coordinate with the cord blood bank so that there is less of a risk for a mistake to occur.
Medical staff at the public cord blood bank will check to see if you can donate. If you have had a disease that can be given to another person through blood-forming cells, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV (the AIDS virus), you will likely not be able to donate. However, other medical reasons may still allow you to donate, for example, hepatitis A or diabetes only during your pregnancy (gestational diabetes). The staff at the public cord blood bank will tell you.
Your child may never need it. Stem cell-rich cord blood can be used to treat a range of diseases, but Frances Verter, Ph.D., founder and director of Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, estimates that there’s only a 1 in 217 chance that your child will ever need a stem cell transplant with cord blood (or bone marrow). This is particularly true if the child doesn’t have a family history of diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, or sickle cell anemia. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states cord blood has been used to treat certain diseases successfully, there isn’t strong evidence to support cord blood banking. If a family does choose to bank cord blood, the AAP recommends public cord blood banking (instead of private) to cut down on expenditures.





What stroller should I register for? How will I find a good pediatrician? And will I ever settle on color for the nursery? There are so many things to think about before your baby is born. But here’s one more decision you might want to consider: whether to bank your baby’s cord blood.
Because of the genetic similarities of siblings, cord blood from one child can be used to treat certain medical conditions from which another child may be suffering. Banking cord blood privately in such a circumstance is highly recommended if the parents can afford the collection and storage costs because it could be useful in finding a cure for the other family member.
In addition, cord blood is being used in experimental therapies that can help with traumatic brain injuries, developed hearing loss, and other conditions that may be caused by an inherited disease. Because the future of cord blood research is rather unknown at this point, storing the blood makes sense because in a few years, that cord blood could make an immediate impact on someone’s health within the family.
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When a child develops a condition that can be treated with stem cells, they undergo transplant. A doctor infuses stem cells from cord blood or bone marrow into the patient’s bloodstream, where they will turn into cells that fight the disease and repair damaged cells—essentially, they replace and rejuvenate the existing immune system.
The majority of programs that accept cord blood donations require the mother to sign up in advance. In the united States, the current requirement is to sign up by the 34th week of pregnancy. This cannot be over-stressed; time and time again, mothers who want to donate are turned away because they did not inquire about donation until it was too late.
However, parents should know that a child’s own cord blood (stored at birth), would rarely be suitable for a transplant today. It could not be used at present to treat genetic diseases, for example, because the cord blood stem cells carry the same affected genes and. if transplanted, would confer the same condition to the recipient. (See the story of Anthony Dones.) In addition, most transplant physicians would not use a child’s own cord blood to treat leukemia. There are two reasons why the child’s own cord blood is not safe as a transplant source. First, in most cases of childhood leukemia, cells carrying the leukemic mutation are already present at birth and can be demonstrated in the cord blood. Thus, pre-leukemic cells may be given back with the transplant, since there is no effective way to remove them (purge) today. Second, in a child with leukemia, the immune system has already failed to prevent leukemia. Since cord blood from the same child re-establishes the child’s own immune system, doctors fear it would have a poor anti-leukemia effect.
Unfortunately, delayed cord clamping is not compatible with banking your little one’s cord blood because the success of the treatment heavily relies on the volume of the blood infused with the stem cells. The more blood the greater chance at a successful outcome.

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