Lets’s bank our baby’s cord blood.
Should I bank my baby’s cord blood? I was faced with this question when I was pregnant. As if there was not already enough on my mind.
Many new mothers told me “yes, I should”. My gynecologist left the option open ended and a few elders in the family said, “We never did. What is it? Is it really helpful?”
So here is what I thought and reasoned out. I hope it will help all you expecting mothers out there.
How does it work? Once the umbilical cord is cut, the blood is collected. Its then stored in the bank of your choice in liquid nitrogen after processing it.
Helpful? Most definitely yes. The baby’s umbilical cord blood is rich in stem cells (stem cells are the building blocks within our bodies and possess the ability to create tissues and organs of all types) and this blood will help if ever any member in the family faces a life threatening illness. These range from leukemia to many non malignant ones too. I read an article that said that research is on to treat diseases like Alzheimer’s and diabetes too.
Expensive? Quite. However for the baby’s sake and for the family’s sake I guess no one would consider the price.
Also, the concept is yet to pick up in India, but public banks exist abroad. Here the blood is stored for the society. We could do some good too and have some here in India as well. Especially since poverty is high and there are many who need treatment of such near fatal diseases but don’t have either the money for treatment or to store the cord’s blood that will help them in the cure.
What is a public cord bank? The basic intention of a public bank is to donate someone’s cord blood to save someone life. The Jeevan Stem Cell Bank has begun with public donation. But we surely need to see many more. Primarily because when the number of units of cord blood stored in such banks increase, so does the chance of finding a matching unit. Also when the number of units are large the ability to use some of it for research also exists.
Is it a worthwhile investment?
1. If a child has certain deficiencies would that not get passed into the blood too? Then would baking such blood help.
2. I read a report which said that treating people of all ages with this blood is still at a nascent stage. That’s because enough stem cells are not there in one unit of the infant’s cord blood.
3. If it’s not banked very carefully then it will be unsuitable for use if ever that time comes.
4. If this blood is not there, it’s not that stem cells are not found elsewhere in the body. In fact its in abundance in the bone marrow.
Who is doing cord blood banking in India?
I remember Life Cell from my time in 2009. I am sure there must be quite a few more by now. With three companies having set up base in Nagpur (Reliance Life Cell which was the first one, Cryo Bank and Babycell), it is fast becoming the hub for cord blood banking.