The decision about whether to store cord blood needs to be made several weeks before delivery. Whether to donate cord blood to a public or private bank is up to you. You also can decide not to donate or store cord blood at all. Think about the following points when making your choice:
- Donating cord blood to a public bank adds to the supply and can potentially help other. Donating to a public bank is especially important for ethnic minorities who are not well represented in cord blood banks. Public cord blood donation increases the chance of all groups finding a match.
- Only certain hospitals collect cord blood for storage in public banks. If you are interested in donating to a public bank, you need to make sure your hospital is able to do this.
- Storing a child’s stem cells in a private bank as “insurance” against future disease is not recommended.
- If you already have a child with a medical condition that may be helped by a cord blood transplant, donating a biological sibling’s cord blood for directed donation is encouraged. You may want to talk to your child’s doctor about this option.
If problems arise during labor or delivery, it may not be possible to collect cord blood.
If you decide to store cord blood in a private bank, you should find out the total cost, including charges for collecting and processing the cord blood and the annual storage fees.
Collecting Cord Blood
Cord blood is collected by your obstetrician or the staff at the hospital where you give birth. Not all hospitals offer this service. Some charge a separate fee that may or may not be covered by insurance. Certain steps must be done beforehand:
- The bank must be notified and a collection kit must be obtained in advance (usually 6 weeks or more) of the due date. Some hospitals have collection kits on hand. Others do not. It is important to make sure that a collection kit is available well before you give birth.
- A family medical history must be provided and the mother’s blood must be tested.
- Consent must be given before labor begins.
If you choose a private bank, you will sign a contract and pay a fee before the baby is born. The process used to collect cord blood is simple and painless. After the baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut and clamped. Blood is drawn from the cord with a needle that has a bag attached. The process takes about 1o minutes. Sometimes, not enough cord blood is can be collected. This problem can occur if the baby is preterm or if it is decided to delay clamping of the umbilical cord. It also can happen for no apparent reason. if an emergency occurs during delivery, priority is given to caring for you and your baby over collecting cord blood.
The stem cells in cord blood can be used to treat some diseases and in research studies of new treatments. Public cord blood banks store cord blood for use by anyone who needs it. You are contributing to the overall supply of cord blood when you donate to a public bank. Private banks store cord blood for use by your baby or by family members. You should know all of the facts about cord blood banking before making a decision about storing or donating your baby’s cord blood. Contact us if you have any questions, or to schedule an appointment.