Cord Blood Banking: Is it for you?

Things to know about cord blood banking

What is cord blood banking? Cord blood refers to the blood in your newborn’s umbilical cord. It contains stem cells that can grow into blood vessels, organs, and tissues. Cord blood banking involves collecting blood left in your newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta at birth and storing it for future medical use. Cord blood can be stored for over 20 years. According to experts, over 70 percent of patients in need of a stem cell transplant are unable to find a match due to lack of bone marrow donors. Here is where cord blood that is stored can come to the rescue.

What is cord blood banking - ZenParent

Cord blood stem cells are biologically younger and are more flexible compared to adult stem cells collected from other sources such as bone marrow. When saved, cord blood stem cells have many unique advantages:

  • There is less risk of complications when used in transplants
  • It provides ability to use one’s own stem cells for conditions that currently lack medical treatment options
  • It can be immediately available from the storage and can curtail disease progression in early treatment

Collecting cord blood from a newborn’s umbilical cord does not harm the mother in any way. It is a completely safe, harmless, and painless procedure.

The process of collecting and storing the cord blood long term can be expensive but if you are willing to spend for it or if your family has a history of diseases (such as sickle-cell anaemia, leukemia, lymphomas, thalassaemia, or immune deficiency disorders) you should consider it. Because, in cases of family history with these diseases, the chances of your child or your family needing a stem cell transplant are higher.

Cord blood banking options in India 

There are nowadays two types of banking facilities available in India for storing the cord blood cells of your baby:

  • Public cord blood banksIn a public cord blood bank, parents donate the cord blood of their baby free of charge, to a central facility for use by anybody who needs it. The cord blood is not stored specifically for a particular person or family member. The bank takes care of all the costs involved in the collection, transport, processing and long-term storage.Donors to public banks must be screened before birth. Screening may involve gathering and analyzing the detailed medical history of the mother and father and their families. The idea is to learn about any blood or immune system disorders or other problems that may be present in the potential donors.

One of India’s biggest public cord blood banks is Jeevan, based in Chennai.

  • Private cord blood banksPrivate cord blood banks are built around the concept that survival rates using a direct family member or relative’s cord blood can be much higher as compared to using an unrelated sample from a public bank. They offer the opportunity to have perfectly matched stem cells if needed sometime in the future. The expense of collecting and storing the cord blood for years at a private bank can be quite high.

Costs

Total costs for one whole cycle of a cord blood banking service can be divided into two parts:

1. Enrolment Fees 

initial enrollment fee is collected when you register to avail the services of a blood bank. This may or may not include a fee for collecting the cord blood sample. This fee can usually vary from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 20,000 depending on the bank you choose.

2. Storage Fees

This can be paid either as a one-time lumpsum payment or as monthly installments. This fee can vary from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 3, 00,000.

You can evaluate some of the features such as accreditation and costs of some of the nationally prominent cord blood banks here.

Checklist:

Some of the important things to check for are:

  • Accreditation standards

Check for accreditation standards that your bank must have such as DCGI – license for operating in India or ISO certification – International Organization Standards certificate (for example: ISO 9000).

  • Financial stability of the cord blood bank

Cord blood banks have to survive for decades before being financially stable. In such circumstances, the insurance plan of the blood bank has to be examined closely. It is possible for any commercial activity to go bankrupt in the future.

In case of business failure or a natural disaster, what provisions does the bank have to protect itself? What is the insurance coverage? Who are the financial backers of the bank? What kind of hospitals is the bank affiliated with? 

  • Prior intimation

Some hospitals don’t permit or provide an option for a transfer of the umbilical cord to take place. Yet others might have an exclusive tie-up with certain blood banks. You might end up having to deal with a blood bank against your will if the hospital’s protocols are not taken into consideration.

Hence, always check with your hospital before coming to an agreement with a cord blood bank.

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