Cord blood banking
- Maria Eleanor E. Valeros () - February 28, 2011 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Ever wonder how umbilical cord blood banking works? Collection of the cord blood takes place shortly after birth in both vaginal and cesarean (C-section) deliveries, says

Here’s the rest of the procedure:

•It’s done using a specific kit that parents must order ahead of time from their chosen cord-blood bank.

•After a vaginal delivery, the umbilical cord is clamped on both sides and cut. In most cases, an experienced obstetrician or nurse collects the cord blood before the placenta is delivered. One side of the umbilical cord is unclamped, and a small tube is passed into the umbilical vein to collect the blood. After blood has been collected from the cord, needles are placed on the side of the surface of the placenta that was connected to the fetus to collect more blood and cells from the large blood vessels that fed the fetus.

•During cesarean births, cord-blood collection is more complicated because the obstetrician’s primary focus in the operating room is tending to the surgical concerns of the mother. After the baby has been safely delivered and the mother’s uterus has been sutured, the cord blood can be collected. However, less cord blood is usually collected when delivery is by C-section. The amount collected is critical because the more blood collected, the more stem cells collected. If using the stem cells ever become necessary, having more to implant increases the chances of engraftment (successful transplantation).

•After cord-blood collection has taken place, the blood is placed into bags or syringes and is usually taken by courier to the cord-blood bank. Once there, the sample is given an identifying number. Then the stem cells are separated from the rest of the blood and are stored cryogenically (frozen in liquid nitrogen) in a collection facility, also known as a cord-blood bank. Then, if needed, blood-forming stem cells can be thawed and used in either autologous procedures (when someone receives his or her own umbilical cord blood in a transplant) or allogeneic procedures (when a person receives umbilical cord blood donated from someone else — a sibling, close relative, or anonymous donor).

How long can blood-forming stem cells last when properly stored?

“Theoretically, stem cells should last forever,” explained. “But cord-blood research only began in the 1970s, so the maximum time for storage and potential usage are still being determined. Blood-forming stem cells that have been stored for more than a decade have been used successfully in transplants.”

Pros and cons

Moreover, it was learned that cord-blood banking isn’t routine in hospital or home deliveries — it’s a procedure you have to choose and plan for beforehand, so the client is advised to “be sure to consider decision carefully before delivery day.”

“The primary reason that parents consider banking their newborn’s cord blood is because they have a child or close relative with or a family medical history of diseases that can be treated with bone marrow transplants. Some diseases that more commonly involve bone marrow transplants include certain kinds of leukemia or lymphoma, aplastic anemia, severe sickle cell anemia, and severe combined immunodeficiency,” this was further learned.

The odds that the average baby without risk factors will ever use his or her own banked cord blood is considered low; however, no accurate estimates exist at this time.

The expense of collecting and storing the cord blood can be a deciding factor for many families, it added. “At a commercial cord-blood bank, you’ll pay approximately $1,000-$2,000 to store a sample of cord blood, in addition to an approximately $100 yearly maintenance fee. You might also pay an additional fee of several hundred dollars for the cord-blood collection kit, courier service to the cord-blood bank, and initial processing.”

In most cases, stem cell transplants are performed only on children or young adults. The larger the size of the person, the more blood-forming stem cells are needed for a successful transplant. Umbilical cord blood stem cells aren’t adequate in quantity to complete an adult’s transplant.

In addition, it’s not known whether stem cells taken from a relative offer more success than those taken from an unrelated donor. “Stem cells from cord blood from both related and unrelated donors have been successful in many transplants. That’s because blood-forming stem cells taken from cord blood are naive (a medical term for early cells that are still highly adaptable and are less likely to be rejected by the recipient’s immune system). Therefore, donor cord-blood stem cells do not need to be a perfect match to create a successful bone marrow transplant,” the post also read.

There has been little experience with transplanting self-donated cells. Some experts are concerned that an ill baby who receives his or her own stem cells during a transplant would be prone to a repeat of the same disease. Most of the bone marrow transplants that use blood-forming stem cells have been performed on relatives of the donating child, not on the donating child.

Also, underscored that the risks to the health of the mother and baby at the time of collection are low, but they do exist. Clamping the umbilical cord too soon after birth may increase the amount of collected blood, but it could cause the baby to have a lower blood volume and possible anemia soon after birth.

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