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Cord Blood Preservation- Is It For You?
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The feeling of absolute joy when you hold your newborn in your hands is something that can never be replicated. Very often, we are so completely lost in the moment that we forget about everything else that may matter.
In the recent past, banking of stem cells and blood taken from the umbilical cord, has become a part of the birthing process. Today, we will explore the main features of this practice and if it is something that you should choose to do for your child.
Cord blood bank is a simple process where, blood cells are extracted from the umbilical cord soon after birth. Care is taken to ensure that the cells are taken from the fetal end of the cord, since they are richer in constituents. At other times, blood cells may be taken from the placental end as well.
This extraction occurs only after the umbilical cord is cut, but within ten minutes of it being cut. So, the window of extraction is rather small, for it to be effective. Blood banking experts require a minimum of 75 ml of blood, for the cells to be considered viable for transplantation purposes.
Once extracted, the next critical step is to confirm if the cord blood is indeed useful, by eliminating chances of HIV and Hepatitis B and C. Further tests are carried out, to determine the blood type, blood group, Rh grouping and cell viability.
The sample is then quickly transported to a cryopreservation unit for processing and long-term storage. Some labs extract the red blood cells from the cord blood before cryopreservation, while others preserve the blood with the red blood cells intact.
So, why does a person opt for this procedure? Cord blood cells are found to be high in components that could treat life-threatening diseases. Especially in situations where a bone-marrow is hard to find for a transplant procedure, these little microscopic things become life-savers. They mainly help those who develop blood and immune-system related diseases.
The really fascinating thing about this procedure is that it cannot be used to save the donor himself. The blood will help to save others who share the same tissue type- typically the parents or the siblings. Generally, siblings are seen to have a high compatibility rate, as compared to parents- up to 75%.
So, in effect, when you do bank cord blood cells of your newborn infant, you are safeguarding the older children or a possible future child against the dread of frightening diseases, which have a very low treatment and survival rate.
Having read the above, you must now be wondering why anyone would opt out of this procedure.
1. You may be a parent to a single child and have no intention of having another.
2. You worry about the spiraling cost factor and think about whether it makes financial sense.
3. You study the statistics and realize that the possibility of developing a disease such as the ones mentioned above are not sufficient to warrant this procedure.
However, if you do intend to go in for this procedure, keep a few things in mind:
1. Make sure that the necessary cells from the umbilical cord are taken soon after the child is born. The window of extraction is critical, for the cells to be viable.
2. Study the background of the cell bank to whom you will entrust the blood. Do bear in mind that improperly certified banks abound and there are unscrupulous people out there, who will prey on innocent parents.
3. Does the expenditure for the banking outweigh the possible long-term expenditure of a hospitalization and treatment for a life-threatening disease? If you answered ‘Yes’, then this procedure is for you.
At the end of the day, it really lies in your hands. Ensure that you weigh all your choices before you decide to use cord blood banking as a means to secure your family’s future.
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