We chose to bank our twin’s umbilical cord blood. I am amazed that saving some blood from the birth process could some day, not only save my child’s life, but could also prevent a fellow family member from having to go through the bone marrow donation process. I understand that banking cord blood is a great cost. Did you know you can register for it? You can actually ask friends and family to donate money towards the initial cost so that it is more affordable. Anyways, I wanted to talk a little about cord blood banking so that you might seriously consider it when it comes to your own kids.
Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells. Stem cells are cells that haven’t differentiated or “decided what to be when they grow up”. Why is that so important? Stem cells can potentially grow into any cell that the body needs them to be. When they are in a fetus, stem cells somehow know that a certain number need to be liver cells, skin cells, brain cells and so on. That is why scientist are so excited to study them and find out how to make them in to a certain type of cell. Right now stem cells from cord blood can help patients with sickle cell anemia, leukemia, and other illnesses. What will scientists learn about their uses in our lifetime?
When I was working as a labor and delivery nurse I often wondered why someone didn’t save all that cord blood. What if there was a program that collected cord blood from hospitals? There could be some kind of standard release form that parents could sign if they weren’t going to bank their child’s umbilical cord blood themselves. Then, those that couldn’t afford to bank their child’s cord blood might still have hope that someday, if their child – or anyone – was in need of a bone marrow transplant, there would be a bank of cord blood waiting, just like there is blood waiting for all of us in an emergency. Maybe I should contact blood banks and talk to a manager…. 😉
Ah…. the dreams a nurse has for the future where everyone has the chance for a cure.
Links to some major umbilical cord blood banks;
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The August issue of Parents Magazine had an article titled “The Gift of Life” about a boy whose rare disease was treated w/cord blood from a public bank.
I never knew that the option to donate to a cord blood bank existed and if I had, I would have definitely considered donating my sons’ blood to it. It appears that anyone can be treated from blood in these banks.
At this point, it doesn’t seem like the program is well-known or that many hospitals are participating in it.
I found this link with interesting info:
Thank you for bringing up this important topic!
It’s my understanding that you can donate cord blood if you don’t want to bank it yourself. If I remember correctly, you still have to take responsibility for having the collection kit at delivery, but it’s at no cost to you.
I, too, hope that one day cord blood collection will be standard. There are so many amazing possibilities for its use.
It is often the ones who are on the front of an industry that have the first insights. It is wonderful that some smart individuals where able to make cord blood banking possible.