By Samantha Peters
These days, an increasing number of parents are opting to preserve their baby‘s umbilical cord blood in case of future illness. This blood, which contains a rich supply of stem cells, can be used for the child or anyone else who needs life-saving treatment. While the odds of the blood being a match for most people who are unrelated to the child are slim, there is almost always someone who could benefit from it. Families can save this blood through a process known as cord blood banking.
Until recently, the medical world believed that umbilical cords were simply leftovers to be disposed of. After it was discovered that the stem cells they contain can be manipulated into forming things like organs and blood and treating illnesses, people started to realize the importance of saving this valuable resource. Some of the diseases treated include brain damage, Alzheimer’s, and leukemia. It has also been demonstrated that cerebral palsy can be treated this way.
Collecting stem cells from umbilical cord blood is harmless and causes no pain to the mother or baby. Many cord blood banks recommend that if you wish to save your infant’s cord blood that you notify them by week 34 of your pregnancy. At the time of birth, the cord will be collected and the blood will be extracted, processed and cryogenically frozen for future use. Most banks offer this valuable service free of charge if you donate your infant’s cord blood for charitable purposes.
Following the extraction process, the blood will be tested for diseases or defects. If any are discovered, the family will be immediately notified. Then the blood is frozen to a temperature of 196 degrees below zero. This allows it to be kept almost indefinitely as long as the temperature stays constant. In order to safeguard this, the banks employ various means of backup power in case of electrical failure.
To bank your child’s cord blood, you can expect to pay an initial fee of anywhere between $1500 and $2400 with an annual fee of about $150. A few banks will allow you to retain the rights to a portion of the blood if you choose to donate the rest.
If you can afford the cost of cord blood banking, many doctors will recommend that you do so. This can provide you and your family with peace of mind. If you can’t afford the cost, you may wish to consider donating it so that it may help someone else. The cord and its blood are simply disposed of otherwise and this resource is far too precious to waste.
About this Author:
Samantha Peters is an avid blogger who enjoys writing about various career and job related topics. Sam manages The Education Update and lives in beautiful San Diego, California.