Over the last few years, cord blood storage has been talked about frequently. Some people label it a panacea for all diseases, while others dismiss it as too futuristic to be of immediate use. In this article, I will consider some of the issues and give you brief details about cord blood preservation and related topics.
The blood in the placenta or the umbilical cord of a baby is extremely rich in stem cells immediately after birth. When this was recognized, the value of cord blood banking or cord blood preservation became apparent immediately. If the cord blood of a baby could be stored, then the stem cells would be available to treat any major condition for a long time. Matching blood types is no longer a problem since the sample in ones own. Even parents and siblings can often use the cord blood.
Specialized cord blood banks have now come up offering high quality services in cord blood collection, its processing and in cord blood storage. This is not as simple as refrigerating blood. To begin with, the place of birth is seldom in the vicinity of a cord blood bank. Transporting the umbilical cord blood with rapidity, safety and under the right conditions can only be done by a medical courier company. The cord blood bank organizes this activity for you.
Next, the blood is tested for any diseases or conditions that may hamper storage. The umbilical cord blood bank then separates the various constituents of the blood to segregate the stem cells and stores them at minus 200 degrees Celsius in liquid nitrogen. Obviously, great care is taken in labeling the sample correctly so that there is absolutely no chance of a mix up in the twenty years or so that the sample will be preserved.
Should you physician ever determine that the stem cells are required to treat the owner or anyone the owner recommends, the cord blood bank will swing into action. The bank will help the physician in deciding if the match will be successful and if so; it will thaw the stem cells and once again under very carefully controlled transfer methods, will send the stem cells to the physician.
Of course, there is costs of cord blood banking attached. Sterile conditions and liquid nitrogen need high quality infrastructure. However, many people have begun to look at cord blood storage as a ‘medical insurance’. Who knows? One daystem cells may arrest aging!