Cord blood is commonly used as a catch-all term for the many cells that are kept because it is linked to cord blood banking. Some parents may be surprised to hear that preserved cord blood has very little “blood,
” and that the red blood cells (RBCs) can be harmful to a cord blood treatment. Cord blood banking is more commonly referred to as stem cell banking in Europe and other areas of the world. This phrase may be more suitable because cord blood banking is aimed to harvest blood-forming stem cells rather than real blood cells.
The umbilical cord and its blood were once considered medical trash before the 1990s. Parents today bank or keep their baby’s umbilical cord blood because the stem cells found in it are being used or show promise in the treatment of life-threatening and debilitating disorders. Cord blood can be easily taken via the umbilical cord at the time of the baby’s delivery, with no risk to the mother or the baby. This is why planning to collect and bank a baby’s cord blood during pregnancy is a great idea.
How much does cord blood banking cost?
While most parents would wish to bank their newborns’ cord blood to help protect their families, the expense of cord blood banking is generally the deciding factor. Most cord blood banks charge a one-time cost of $1,000 to $2,000 for collecting, processing, and preserving cord blood. The cost of the cord blood collection kit, the medical courier service used to expedite the kit’s safe shipment, the testing of the mother’s blood for any infectious diseases, the testing of the baby’s blood for any contamination, and the cost of the first full year of storage are often included in this upfront fee.
After then, a yearly fee of $100 to $200 is usually charged on the baby’s birthday for continuous storage. Because the immune system’s job is to locate and eliminate what it perceives to be foreign invaders, stem cells and other immune system cells can’t be given to just anyone. The immune system can mistakenly attack the patient’s own body after any sort of stem cell transfusion. Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) is a serious issue following a transplant. GvHD can be mild and infrequent, but it can also be severe, persistent, and even fatal.
To help assure engraftment and prevent graft-versus-host disease, the stem cells being transfused must match the patient’s cells fully or to a degree (depending on what is being treated). A baby’s umbilical cord blood is always a perfect match for the baby. Immediate family members are also more likely to be a match for the cord blood banked. Siblings have a 25% probability of being perfect matches and a 50% chance of being partially matched. Parents who give half of the markers used in matching have a one-hundred percent probability of being partial matches.