Whether you are pregnant for the first or fifth time, having a baby can be such an exciting time filled with planning and big decisions. While choosing to bank your baby’s cord blood or cord tissue may be something you have heard of, thought about, or even looked into, sometimes the information can be hard to decipher or maybe even overwhelming.
I have had four births and my OB has never mentioned cord blood banking to me. I have heard about it, but my husband and I did not take the time to thoroughly research it before our deliveries. July is National Cord Blood Awareness Month and I was excited to have the opportunity to speak with Erica Hoppenrath, the local representative for Cord Blood Registry (CBR), to get more information on this process and answer some common questions about this important healthcare decision.
What is a stem cell?
Stem cells are the body’s most powerful cells and could be considered “the body’s own repair kit.” They are strong, powerful, and amazing! Stem cells can change into different types of cells within the body. There are two main types of stem cells: Hematopoietic and Mesenchymal. Hemopoietic stem cells are found in cord blood and can turn into blood and immune system cells like red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Mesenchymal stem cells are found in cord tissue and can turn into connective tissue such as muscle, cartilage, bone, and fat. When you bank both cord blood and cord tissue, you are getting both types of stem cells.
Why bank cord blood and/or tissue?
Banking cord blood and tissue ensures that you have it available should you or your family members need it throughout your child’s life. Cord blood is currently being used for transplant medicine, cancer, lymphoma, and other disorders. There have been 40,000 cord blood transplants worldwide to regenerate healthy blood and immune systems! If you or your family ever need stem cells you are most likely to be matched with a close family member. The stem cells from your baby’s cord blood or cord tissue will always be a match for your baby and there is a 75% chance that it will be a match for your other children, should they need stem cells. Banking your baby’s cord blood is the medical safety net if one of your close family members should ever need stem cells.
Currently, stem cells are being researched for some very exciting uses in regenerative medicine including neurological conditions like brain injury, cardiovascular conditions like Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, autoimmune diseases like Type 1 Diabetes, MS, and Lupus, and even tissue or organ damage. Research is even being done investigating the use of stem cell therapy in Autism.
What is the process of collecting cord blood and tissue?
Once you and your partner have decided that you would like to bank with CBR, a kit will be sent to you in the mail. Make sure to pack your kit in your hospital or birth center bag and let your doctor and nurses know that you want to collect cord blood, cord tissue, or both at delivery. The procedure after delivery is quick and painless! Have Dad or the support person call the courier to pick up the collection and you will be notified when the blood and tissue are safely stored.
How much does it cost?
If you are considering cord blood banking, CBR has many different payment plans, so there are plenty of options! CBR is also the only company that has the Newborn Possibilities Program, which gives families with a qualifying medical need free cord blood processing and five years of storage for cord blood and cord tissue. If you are considering banking with CBR, make sure to contact Erica Hoppenrath, the Lowcountry’s resource for all things cord blood and tissue banking. She can find the best payment plan for you and offer special pricing on the processing fee. There is even a plan as low as $47 a month for 3 years!
Can I practice delayed cord clamping while still collecting cord blood and tissue?
Yes! ACOG and WHO recommends waiting 30-60 seconds before clamping the umbilical cord after delivery. If the cord is clamped after waiting 60 seconds you will still have enough blood for cord blood banking. CBR specifically designed their kit for maximizing cord blood collection volume. In CBR’s experience, healthcare providers have been able to collect a sufficient volume of cord blood for storage even when practicing delayed cord clamping. If you and your provider decide to fully delay cord clamping until the cord stops pulsing you can still preserve your baby’s cord tissue, which contains mesenchymal stem cells (the cells that turn into connective tissue such as bone, muscle, cartilage and fat).
I am interested! What do I do now?
Parents Guide to Cord Blood Banking is an informative website that is non-branded and a wonderful resource for parents wanting more information on cord blood banking. Make sure you do your research on storage facilities. Cord Blood Registry’s storage facility is in Tucson, Arizona which is low risk for natural disasters like tornadoes or earthquakes. There is someone on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Go to the website and take the virtual lab tour. You will feel at ease knowing that CBR is taking every precaution to make sure your cord blood and tissue are being preserved and banked safely!
I hope this helped answer some of your questions and concerns regarding cord blood and tissue banking and usage. I wish I would have done my research with my four births, but, hopefully, this will save you some time if you are pregnant or hope to become pregnant soon!
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Mark Your Calendar!
In honor of Cord Blood Awareness month, CBR will be hosting a webinar for expecting parents on July 29th. Parents can enter to win a $200 gift card! Please email Erica Hoppenrath at [email protected] to register.