Becoming a parent for the first time is an extraordinary experience! You will be filled with joy, excitement, and hope as your baby develops and the birth date draws nearer. However, you may also have a lot of questions about how to prepare for the birth of your child.
One of the questions that new parents face is: “Should they store their child’s umbilical cord blood?”
After parents learn about the great benefits obtained from cord blood banking most think it is a fantastic idea. But how do they start?
This article will share a cord blood banking checklist to help you get started! It is actually a very straightforward process, so let’s get going!
Learning about Cord Blood Banking
The first step in our cord blood banking checklist involves taking a closer look at the reasons why you should bank your child’s cord blood. It is important that parents understand the reasons why cord blood is so important and how their child’s cord blood may be used.
There are a variety of stem cells found in the cord blood including Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). HSCs are blood-forming stem cells and they can turn into red or white blood cells. They are commonly found in bone marrow and are responsible for generating new blood cells in the human body.
HSCs are used to treat various forms of cancer, metabolic disorders, immune system disorders and blood disorders (Corcell, 2015). They are the most widely used type of stem cell and the reason why most parents save their child’s umbilical cord blood. If your child is diagnosed with one of the above conditions, having their cord blood available may save their life.
Mesenchymal stem cells are the subject of a great deal of research. They are multipotent stem cells which can change into a variety of other cells including myocytes (muscle cells), osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and adipocytes (fat cells).
Scientists suspect that MSCs may be able to treat a range of illnesses including heart damage, Parkinson’s disease, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and much more. Many parents save their child’s stem cells to prepare for this research to come to fruition — giving their child a valuable medical resource for the future.
Choosing the Right Cord Blood Bank
Once you understand the many advantages of storing umbilical cord blood, it is time to find a reputable umbilical cord stem cell bank. To do so, you should:
- Ask doctors, friends and family if they know of a reputable provider - Ideally, you will find an experienced cord blood bank that is managed by experts and has been running for years.
- Check online for reviews of different providers - Online reviews can give you more background information about the cord blood bank and are very useful.
- Check where they process and store their samples - Make sure that the cord blood bank processes and stores their cord blood samples in a safe location.
- Check their services and prices - Ideally, the cord blood bank will offer a variety of services including volume-reduced cord blood storage (which emphasises collection of HSCs) and whole blood storage (which keeps all types of stem cells including MSCs).
- Check the blood bank adheres to regulatory requirements - The cord blood bank should be registered with the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) and any other relevant regulatory authorities.
- Ask questions about their process - Before you select a cord blood bank, request an information booklet. Read the information it contains to learn more about their collection, transportation, processing and storage procedures. If you are unsure about anything — ask questions! They should be happy to answer them. If you are still unsure which facility to choose, show the options to your doctor, they will happily give you advice.
Enroll with a Cord Blood Bank
The next set in the cord blood banking checklist is to enroll with the cord blood bank you have chosen. Simply contact your chosen cord blood bank and tell them which package you are interested in. If you are unsure, you can discuss the pros and cons of each package. You will also decide on a payment plan before enrolment.
Once payment has been finalised, the cord blood bank will send you a cord blood and/or tissue collection kit. This kit is to be given to the obstetrician who will be performing your delivery. You will also have to notify the hospital where you are going to have the baby that you will be collecting the cord blood. Your doctor may notify the hospital on your behalf.
Cord Blood Collection
When you go into labour, you should contact your chosen cord blood bank and let them know. They will make arrangements for a medical courier to be ready to collect the blood sample after your child has been born.
Your obstetrician or a qualified nurse will clamp the cord and extract the blood into a sterile container. This sterile container is carefully placed into the packaging provided by your cord blood bank. The medical courier then transports it to the processing facility.
Cord Blood Processing
When saving your baby’s cord blood, you need to understand the different processing methods because this is how the cord blood will be prepared for storage and future use. The processing method can affect the number of stem cells available, the types of stem cells available, the size of the sample, and the number of times it can be used. Any of these factors could determine the effectiveness of cord blood for treatment. And once it’s been processed, it can’t be reversed, so choosing the best processing method is important.
Cord Blood Storage
The samples will then be transported to a storage facility and cryogenically frozen. The cord blood bank will prepare a storage certificate showing your unique ID number, cell count, viability, and sterility. The certificate will be hand delivered to your home or place of work.