Cord blood banking concept is not familiar to many people. People who are yet to start families may be unfamiliar with what it is. While families have tons of decisions to make as they welcome a new member, one more thing has been added to the list: whether or not to keep the umbilical cord blood.
This is the little blood that is usually left in the umbilical cord after childbirth. It is harvested for its high stem cell content. The blood is precious in medicine. Is keeping cord blood useful? The following insights into the pros and cons of the process will answer the question.
- It can save lives. There are two types of cord blood banks. You have the option of storing the blood in a public or private bank. By donating it to a public bank, it can be accessed by anyone who needs it. Note that stem cells are used to treat over 70 illnesses. Cord blood is an asset because of the number of stem cells it contains. You can imagine how many patients’ can benefit from getting blood from a public bank. Even if you might not need it, storing cord blood can help the many patients in need.
- It can be part of your family’s health insurance plan. If you choose the option of storing the blood in a private bank, then you are guaranteed of accessing it when you need it. For instance, if your family has a history of diseases like cancer, you might want to save the blood for a rainy day. When frozen, the stem cells can last up to 30 years.
- It can be used to boost the immunity of your child. Cord blood does not have to wait two decades to be useful. As much as babies get antibodies through breastfeeding, they still tend to get sick. The trips to the hospital are usually more than those of an adult. No mother wants to see their child suffer. It also takes a while before the immune system of an infant becomes stable. You can use stem cells to boost the immunity of your child when most vulnerable. Some children are born with health issues due to different reasons. This is why storing cord blood is essential. If you have it, it can be much easier to treat your baby.
- It can make treatment cheaper. Medical expenses can take a toll on you – especially true if you are managing terminal illness. Cancer treatment, for instance, is very costly. However, with stem cells on standby, you will save the money that you would have otherwise used to get the same. That is not all. Since stem cells are effective in boosting immunity and treating different diseases, recovery will be quicker hence eliminating the need to stay in hospital any longer. This way, you save on bills.
While keeping cord blood in banks has all the mentioned benefits, there are several limitations.
- It is costly. Saving the cord blood in a public bank might not cost you. However, if you are keeping it in a private bank, you might have to part with a significant amount of money. Not everyone can afford that. The costs attached to storing the blood privately is the most significant limitation.
- If stored in a public bank, you are not guaranteed of accessibility. You might be in urgent need of stem cells. However, just because you donated does not mean you will get access when you need it. There is a chance that another patient has already used the cord blood you stored.
These are the major setbacks when it comes to storing cord blood in banks.
As you have seen, the benefits of storing cord blood exceed the challenges. Therefore, if your family gets the opportunity to have the blood, take it. Even if you might not need it, it might help a patient in need of stem cells. That should not hinder you from donating. With the above information, you are in a better position to establish whether or not you are doing the right thing by donating.
Helen Bradfield did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.