The stem cells found within a newborn baby’s umbilical cord blood has a powerful healing ability and have been used to treat many conditions including blood disorders, metabolic disorders, and certain types of cancers. That’s why many expecting parents are now open to the idea of saving the umbilical cord blood because it could help protect their baby’s health in the future.
The concept of storing your newborn baby's umbilical cord blood at birth with a private cord blood bank, also known as ‘cord blood banking’ can be overwhelming if you have only heard about it for the first time. Here is a simple guide to cord blood banking for first-time parents-to-be that will give you an understanding of why you should consider saving your baby's cord blood stem cells and how it all works.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells can transform into other types of cells in the human body. During the earliest stages of a human’s life, stem cells are very productive — helping to develop the brain, skin, ligaments, bones, blood and many more parts of the human body. As human ages, many of these stem cells become dormant and do not actively generate new cells, while others become very limited in their capabilities.
Some stem cells can only generate a particular type of cell. For example, under normal conditions an adult skin cell will only create more skin cells. The role of skin stem cells is very simple — they generate more skin cells to repair injury and maintain skin function.
The stem cell that have the ability to create various types of cells is referred to as multipotent (can differentiate into multiple, but limited cell types) or pluripotent (can create any type of cell). Scientists have discovered that these stem cells can be manipulated by the body to change into the particular cell the body needs. Learn more
The ability to create new cells is simply amazing and can be helpful in the treatment of many medical conditions. Stem cells have been used to successfully treat thousands of patients worldwide.
There is also ongoing research which may lead to treatments for many more serious illnesses and injuries including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Spinal cord injury and missing limbs
- Parkinson’s disease
- Heart Disease
Areas of medical research that deal with the 'process of replacing, engineering or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs' are known as regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicine is seen as the next huge medical breakthrough and many of the techniques being researched rely upon stem cells.
Why stem cells from umbilical cord blood are so valuable?
The blood from umbilical cord is an extremely rich and diverse source of stem cells. There are many types of stem cells found within the umbilical cord blood including haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs), unrestricted somatic stem cells (USSCs), neuronal progenitor cells, and more.
Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are the stem cells used in all current therapies, capable of renewing the body’s capacity to generate red blood cells. By preserving the stem cells from umbilical cord you save autologous stem cells, which are a 100% genetic match that will not be rejected during stem cell transplant. If your child becomes diagnosed with one of the many diseases that can be treated with stem cells, your decision to preserve the umbilical cord blood may save their life. There is also a 25% chance that the cord blood stem cells may be perfect match to the siblings and there is a possibly of matching the parents too. Learn more
Many of the current regenerative medicine research projects are using multipotent mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), found in the cord blood. Preserving these cord blood stem cells gives your child the best chance possible to take advantage of future medical breakthroughs.
Cord blood stem cells also have a lower chance of being rejected by the immune system of the person who receives them. That means the stem cells from your child’s cord blood may be more likely to be suitable for a donation to a family member than other types of stem cells. Find out more about why expecting parents save their baby's umbilical cord blood at birth.
How does cord blood banking work?
Upon signing up with a private cord blood bank, you will receive a collection kit which contains all the materials to be used for cord blood collection. Make sure to bring it with you on your delivery day and inform your doctor or midwife in advance about your decision to save the cord blood.
WATCH VIDEO: SIMPLE STEPS TO CORD BLOOD BANKING
How is umbilical cord blood collected?
After a baby is born, traditionally the umbilical cord is discarded as a medical waste. The process of collecting the umbilical cord blood is simple, painless, and safe for both the mother and the baby. The doctor or midwife will perform the cord blood collection once the umbilical cord is clamped and cut.
The umbilical cord itself, as well as the placenta are also rich in valuable stem cells that can be used in therapeutic purposes. At Cells4Life, we offer the most comprehensive stem cell banking services for expecting parents - cord blood banking, cord tissue banking, as well as placental cells and amnion banking. Learn more
WATCH VIDEO: CORD BLOOD & CORD TISSUE COLLECTION PROCESS
How is umbilical cord blood stored?
Once the umbilical cord blood is collected and packed into the collection kit, a medical courier will pick up and deliver the cord blood sample to the laboratory for testing and processing. At Cells4Life, we offer expecting parents three options to store their baby's cord blood:
- Volume-Reduced Cord Blood Storage
Extracts the maximum number of HSCs from the umbilical cord blood.
- Whole Cord Blood Storage
Preserves the whole cord blood sample therefore capturing all stem cell types in the cord blood, as well as hormones and growth factors.
- CellsPlus Storage
Our latest and most-advanced service powered by TotiCyte, a ground-breaking cord blood processing technology that removes 99% of red blood cells in the cord blood.
Once processed, the cord blood stem cells are cryogenically frozen using our state of the art technology. Cells4Life stores cord blood samples in multiple subdivisions for more treatment opportunities and provides the option to store in two geographically separate locations in the UK for more security.
WATCH VIDEO: DIFFERENT TYPES OF CORD BLOOD STORAGE
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