There have been many breakthroughs in medicine, one being stem cell research and treatment. Since 1988, this truly fascinating and amazing science has been proven to be successful in treating more than 80 different types of diseases. The wide range of different conditions include, but are not limited to, blood disorders, genetic diseases, cancer, immune disorders and even Alzheimer’s disease.
That being said, when it comes to stem cell opportunities for future health issues, it is no wonder why many women are choosing to donate or bank cord blood after giving birth.
Stem Cells Useful for a Number of Diseases
A scientific journal published by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of South Florida and the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, Department of Neurosurgery has shown promising results of umbilical cord banking. This journal goes in depth about the low risk for donors and many positive benefits that can come from donating or banking of this critical blood. There have also been studies on traumatic brain injuries being healed by stem cells.
For those unfamiliar with umbilical and placental cord blood usage, it can be understood by thinking in terms of bone marrow donations. Cord blood donations are along the same lines as these when it comes to their use. The blood found in the umbilical cord and placenta shortly after childbirth contains stem cells that are useful for treating many diseases. These cells are able to grow into healthy blood cells and immune system cells, among others, and can be used to help with treating different diseases and conditions. Cord blood options post-delivery include cord blood banking and storage, in which the family may have the cord blood and stem cells stored away so they may be used at a later date if necessary for health issues that may arise, or by donating the cord blood and stem cells for others in need.
Due to the need for each cord blood unit to be individually tested and processed in a medical laboratory, when it comes to cord blood, and even cord tissue, usage there are two options for families: private (or family) banking, community banking and public donation.
Family and Community Banking vs Public Donation
Family banking typically includes the collection, processing, and cryopreserving (preserving of blood and cells through controlled freezing) the baby’s stem-cell-rich umbilical cord blood for the family’s future medical use.
In contrast, public cord blood banks do not store cord blood for a particular person or family. Instead, the cord blood is donated and makes its way onto a national registry and becomes available to anyone, anywhere in the world, who needs a cord blood transplant.
While private banking may typically be done regardless of the birth location (this may be done with a family bank of the parent’s choosing, however, some hospitals have exclusive contracts requiring their patients to use certain family cord blood banks), parents who wish to donate cord blood to the public banks, are limited by whether there is a public bank that collects donations from the hospital or clinic where their baby will be born. A complete list and directory of public cord blood banks is provided by the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation.
Community banking on the other hand is a new sharing model of stem cell banking that allows parents to store their child’s cord blood in a community bank. By doing this, the family is given access to all of the other cord blood units in the community bank. A community bank operates similarly to a public cord blood bank in that the members are supporting each other, however, it is similar to a private bank because the members must pay for this service and nonmembers cannot participate.
Choosing to donate cord blood instead of banking it, doesn’t cost the new mother anything at all, however, if cord blood banking is desired, expect some steep expenses.
The Cost of Cord Blood Banking
Typically, cord blood banking for the first year has a fee that usually costs between $400 and a few thousand dollars. Additionally, storage costs can be between $100-$300 but these prices can vary and there are many banks that offer payment plans to make these prices more affordable for families.
Many different banks also offer discounts when signing up for the first time to bank cord blood and companies like ViaCord offer $500 off when you enroll. There is usually a fee but many of the banks will process, collect and store cord blood by freezing your umbilical cord blood so that you or your family may use it in the future and public banks do not store it, so that option should only be used when you are interested in donating.
Many banks also have no-interest installment options that you can make payments to over a long period of time instead of making one large payment all at once and many families choose this option. This is usually for around 20 years of preservation and can end up costing less in the long run. Even though this cost may sound big, there is a lot that goes into storing important stem cells. This ensures that all processing, testing and collecting is all taken care of. There are also banks that offer lower prices for storing longer or have one fixed price while others have add-on costs.
Many also offer limited time only discounts as well as discounts for families with multiple storages or procedures done and military family discounts. The procedure itself is extremely painless and will not harm or disrupt you or the baby so there is absolutely no risk when choosing to do this.
The price may seem high, but for some families, especially those with foreseeable future medical needs, the benefits from this procedure are well worth it and finding the right bank for your family can help find ways to make it more affordable for you.