Banks are known for keeping your valuables safe and secure for the future. Imagine a medical bank with life-saving rewards, return on contribution and a direct deposit for helping people suffering from a medical crisis. July is National Cord Blood Awareness and a great time to learn its importance in treating others.
Why is cord blood so important?
- It is a rich source of stem cells which transforms into other types of cells in the body to create new growth and development according to the American Pregnancy Association. The American College of OB/GYN (ACOG) website lists some important uses for cord blood including:
- Stems cells from cord blood can be given to more people than those from bone marrow.
- More matches are possible when a cord blood transplant is used than when bone marrow is used.
- Cord blood is ready for anyone who needs it.
- Stem cells in cord blood can be used to strengthen the immune system during cancer treatments.
How did it get started?
The journey of using umbilical cord blood started with the first pediatric transplant in France in 1988 and since that time full-scale medical advances lead the way for the use of stem cells in transplantation, the treatment of other disorders including leukemia, lymphomas, certain disorders of the blood and immune system, such as sickle-cell disease.
What is a cord blood bank?
This facility stores cord blood for future use where it can be frozen and stored. Both public and private banks have developed over the years in response to the need for treating diseases of the blood and immune system. The one you select is a personal choice for you and your family. Information on public and private banks can be found on the ACOG website:
- Public cord blood banks do not charge to store for cord blood.
- The stem cells in the donated cord blood can be used by anyone who matches. Some public banks will store cord blood for directed donation if you have a family member who has a disease that could be potentially treated with stem cells.
- Donors to public banks are screened for blood or immune disorders or other problems. With a cord blood donation, the mother’s blood is tested for genetic disorders and infections, and the cord blood is tested after collection.
- Private or family banks store cord blood for transplantation where the recipient uses his or her own cells or tissue (such as bone marrow) or a directed donation for a family member. Private banks charge a yearly fee for storage, but they must also meet the same standards as blood stored in a public bank.
What you should know before donation
- Discuss your donation wishes with your OB/GYN or pediatrician who can advise you about collection procedures, risks and the process for donating after delivery.
- Look at your options early enough during your pregnancy before your baby is born. If you make a decision to donate the blood bank is notified, a collection kit is obtained (usually 6 weeks or more) before your due date. Some hospitals have collection kits on hand, others do not so be sure to check with your medical team first.
The information on this site is intended to raise awareness and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis or a substitute for health care by your physician.