Dr Himani Gupta
Consulting Gynaecologist in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai
-A baby’s umbilical cord blood is rich in stem cells-the powerful cells that can produce different types of blood cells and have the potential to treat more than 80 medical conditions including blood and genetic disorders like cancers.
-This has encouraged most parents to opt for stem cell banking and utilize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure their child’s long-term good health.
The Collection Process
-So, what is stem cell banking after all? Here are 5 things about it that every parent should know.
-It is a simple, one-time process.
-The cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord after it is cut off soon after childbirth, thereby causing no pain or risk to the baby or the mother.
-This blood is collected by the doctor, stored in a collection kit and handed over to a trained paramedic, making it an absolutely safe process.
Cord Blood Processing and Storage
-The collected sample is then processed in a lab.
-Here, the stem cells are separated from red blood cells.
-The viable stem cells are then sent for cold storage where they are stored in liquid nitrogen at very low temperatures until required for treatment or future use.
Private banking v/s Community banking
While banking your baby’s cord blood, you’ll come across two types of storage models
1) Private banking program
2) Community banking program
-Community stem cell banking is usually preferred over private banking as it offers a wide range of benefits, and often at the same cost.
-In private banking, your child can use only their own stem cells when required.
-However, for the treatment of the majority of blood disorders, patients own stem cells are not useful and stem cells from a closely matched donor are required to treat the condition.
-A major benefit of community banking is that the community members can access the matched units from the pool of shared stem cells.
-This significantly increases the chances of finding a donor.
-The biggest beneficiary of stem cell banking is, of course, your baby.
-However, when you opt for community stem cell banking, a baby’s immediate family including parents, siblings, and grandparents (paternal & maternal) are also covered as beneficiaries under the scheme.
-So, if any of these family members ever require a cord blood transplant, then they can easily access the stem cell registry.
-Any medical transplant procedure can burn a huge hole in your pocket.
-However, if you choose a reputable or trusted stem cell bank, you’ll be offered the benefit of financial assistance to cover the treatment costs, especially in the case of a community stem cell banking program.
So, if you’re expecting a baby soon and still haven’t considered cord blood banking, then it’s the right time for you to decide.
-Make sure you check and compare the benefits before you sign up for stem cell banking for your baby.
After all, a decision that puts your baby and your family’s health first will always be a welcome one!