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When parents have children, they don't always think of what might happen in the future. Illness and medical conditions that might occur as the child grows older are now being thought of when parents decide to collect and store their newborn’s umbilical cord blood in a cord bank. During the 1970s, doctors discovered that the blood found within the umbilical cord could supply blood-forming stem cells, and they began to collect and store them in stem cell banks. These special stem cells are capable of turning into three types of mature blood cells that are found in all humans; red and white blood cells, and platelets.
Children who suffer from cancer or other blood diseases must undergo chemotherapy or radiation to treat their condition, but these treatments also harm healthy cells within the body, including the cells in the bone marrow, where red blood cells are formed. For children who need a bone marrow transplant, which can be complicated since a matched donor must be willing to donate bone marrow. Instead, or in combination to a bone marrow transplant, previously stored and healthy umbilical cord blood cells are transplanted into the child, and go on to create new, healthy blood cells which in turn enhance the child’s blood production and immune system.
Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Procurement Procedure
Umbilical cord blood can be collected after either a cesarean or traditional birth. To collect the blood, parents must supply a cord blood kit which they can get from the cord blood bank where they will be storing the cells. In the event of a traditional birth, the umbilical cord is clamped from both ends and cut. An experienced nurse or obstetrician is often able to collect cord blood even before the placenta is delivered. To gather the cord blood, a small tube is inserted into the umbilical vein and collected, and then additional needles are placed within the delivered placenta to gather more valuable blood and cells.
During a cesarean birth, the priority first lies with the mother and her surgical needs. Once the baby has been delivered and the mother is taken care of, the obstetrician can then collect the cord blood. During this type of birth however, less cord blood is available for collection. Once the blood is collected from either type of birth, the cord blood is then placed within syringes or bags and taken to the blood bank. At the blood bank, stem cells are separated from the blood and then cryogenically frozen. In the event they are needed, they are thawed and used. In autologous procedures, an individual will use their own blood cells during a stem cell transplant, while an allogenic procedure allows stem cells from a different individual to be used as long as they are a close match.
Benefits of Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Treatments
The benefit of using umbilical cord stem cells is vital when a child is faced with a medical illness or diseases. Since the placenta and umbilical cord have traditional been discarded, finding these cells increase the chances of survival when an individual is faced with cancers, blood diseases or other ailments. Being frozen cryogenically also means they are available for use at any time, which is very important when faced with cancer or other serious medical condition. Millions of parents have frozen and store their baby's umbilical cord blood these days, and their numbers are growing. Stem cell research and development is entering an exciting era, and it is hoped that someday soon, multiple treatments for formerly incurable illnesses and disease processes will be discovered, making storage of umbilical cord blood stem cells invaluable.
Cost of Umbilical Cord Blood Transplants
Many stem cell therapies are not yet approved by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) in the United States, though the first stem cell transplant utilizing embryonic stem cell transplant tissues was approved in early 2009. Costs for such therapies and transplants are expected to be astronomical for most consumers. However, umbilical cord blood banking is approved. In India stem cell transplantation costs approximately $18,000 while China offers treatments that may run as high as $30,000 which includes travel expenses and all0inclusive medical attention and care. In the United States it costs approximately $2,000 to store umbilical cord blood in a cord blood bank.
Choosing a Doctor for Stem Cell Therapy
It is important to find a doctor, obstetrician and delivery team staff experienced in collecting stem cells during the birth of a newborn. Once the stem cells are collected, entrusting them to a reputable blood bank will ensure that they will be there in the event of a medical emergency or illness. Make sure cord blood banks are well equipped and technologically advanced enough to withstand electrical shortages, natural disasters and earthquake damage. Ask how long cord blood may be safely frozen and still provide viable usage.
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