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  Cord Blood Banking
  About Cord Blood
  Cord Blood Stem Cells
  Diseases Treated
  Pros and Cons
  How To Preserve
  Banking Process
  Why Cord Blood Banking
  Types of Cord Blood Banks
  Public Cord Blood Bank
  Private Cord Blood Bank
  Selecting Cord Blood Bank
  Cost For Cord Blood Banking
  Ethical Issues
  Cord Blood FAQs

How A Cord Blood Bank Preserves Your Life

Stem cells are a kind of undifferentiated cell that can be found in adult bone marrow and in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies. Transplants of adult bone marrow are commonly used in the treatment of a number of diseases including leukemia, aplastic anemia and certain other conditions affecting the blood.

The stem cells found in adult bone marrow are potentiated as hematopoietic – that is to say that they’ll only grow into blood cells or more stem cells. The stem cells found in umbilical cord blood, on the other hand, aren’t as potentiated, which means with more understanding, medical science may be able to influence them to grow into any type of cells that is needed by our bodies. You may have also heard of embryonic stem cells, which are the least potentiated stem cells and are currently subject to a great deal of controversy over their use and study.

When your child is born, you have the opportunity to store his or her umbilical cord blood for future use. The blood is harvested after the umbilical cord is clamped, which doesn’t hurt the baby or mother – clamping the cord is a traditional part of the birth process, whether or not the cord blood will be preserved. If the umbilical cord blood isn’t harvested, it is discarded along with the umbilical cord and placenta.

The harvested umbilical cord blood may then be stored in a private cord blood bank preservation facility or donated to a public cord blood bank. The chief difference is that you pay – sometimes quiet handsomely – to store umbilical cord blood in a private facility, although the blood can only be used by you and the people you designate. Donations to public cord blood banks are free, but the stem cells will be used by the first available match in need of a transplant.

As with any blood product, matching the component factors for a stem cell transplant is crucial. There’s more to matching blood products than the general types of O, A, and B that we’re most familiar with. However, there’s still a much greater likelihood that you’ll match someone close to you genetically, such as a sibling or your child, than a stranger.

This means that if you have a predisposition for or a greater than normal risk of having a genetic condition, having those stem cells readily available to you can make a huge difference. Not only do you have a greater likelihood of finding an excellent match, but because the blood is already available, you won’t have to wait as long as you normally would to get a donation from an adult bone marrow donor. In addition, there are also some conditions associated with aging, such as arthritis, that may benefit from stem cell use in the future.

However, there are no guarantees that umbilical cord blood transplantation or use will ever be as successful as adult bone marrow transplants. But unfortunately, when your child is born, you have a limited window of opportunity in which to preserve these cells. One day, you or someone you know – perhaps even your child – could be helped by something that would be otherwise simply thrown away, so it’s definitely worth considering.

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