I think we have all heard of cord blood banking, but do we really know what it is?
Cord blood banking is a process by which blood is taken from the umbilical cord after the birth of an infant and is then processed for cryogenic freezing so that it can be available for future uses in certain medical conditions.
Cord blood contains stem cells, which may prove helpful to those requiring stem cell transplantation when they are diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, aplastic anemia, severe sickle cell disease, or severe combined immunodeficiency disease. Cord blood contains blood-forming cells, which are capable of evolving into red and white blood cells and platelets and have been noted to have potential rise to several other types of blood cells.1
After collection, one may opt for public or private storage. There are significant differences, so it is important that they are clearly understood prior to agreeing on storage type. Public storage is used for research or for anyone in need, while private storage is kept for your personal use. Public banking is generally free of charge and is kept anonymously marked. It is recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) whenever possible. The important thing to remember is that if you want to use the blood you donated, you will not have this option with public banking.1
Private banking, on the other hand, incurs a substantial fee ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 plus maintenance fees for however it is stored for your personal use. There may also be fees incurred for collection, courier services, and processing, which can go into the several hundred dollar range. Currently, there is no determination of the shelf-life of stored cells, however, the theory is that they are good forever.1
So you've stored cord blood... now what? Hopefully you are never in a position where to have to use this, however, if the need arises, the blood-forming stems cells are thawed and used in an autologous or allogenic fashion. Most of these types of transplants are performed in children and young adults due to the need for larger volume donation for adult transplants. It has been noted that transplants from both related and unrelated individuals have been successful.1
So, would you do it? Personally, I did not because the cost to collect and store the cord blood in a private bank was in the several thousand dollar range. Have you encountered anyone who has used their stored cord blood? What was the outcome?