Private Cord Blood Storage – What is it?
Cord blood storage isn’t a completely new concept, but you may not know all the details. If you are pregnant this is something that may be offered to you or something you found during your research. However you heard about it, allow us to fill you in on what it is and how it might benefit you.
What is cord blood?
A very quick intro to what cord blood is. It is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It is the blood left over in the umbilical cord and placenta once the cord is cut. This blood can be collected via a non-invasive process that happens only after the placenta has been delivered. If you choose to have your baby’s cord blood stored, it will not affect your birth plan and is compatible with delayed cord clamping.
Pretty neat right?
Cord Blood Storage
Umbilical cord blood (and tissue) are rich in valuable stem cells. Stem cells can be lifesaving. Usually, once your baby is born, unless you have arranged otherwise, the placenta and cord are thrown away as medical waste. You can store the blood, tissue and placenta if you want to and preserve the stem cells for future use.
You may be thinking “why would I do this?” Well, stem cells are used in over 85 approved treatments and research is constantly being done to further explore their medical possibilities. Usually, when someone requires stem cell treatment, they have to wait for a donor with a similar enough biological match. Privately storing your baby’s cord blood allows them access to a 100% match for themselves should they ever require treatment. Not only that but their siblings could benefit too.
Private vs Public
You can store both publicly or privately but there are some big differences between the two.
Public banking or cord blood donation has limited availability. There are currently only a handful of hospitals in the UK that offer cord blood collection as well as the Anthony Nolan charity. The stem cells are then available to anyone who might need them on a donation list. This is also a free service.
Private cord blood banking is a paid service but allows you to provide your child with a lifelong safety net. Your child will have access to their stem cells for treatments and therapies should they need them. Also, should a sibling need them there is a high likely hood of even a partial match so they can be used here too. The biggest difference is that private collection is available at hospitals throughout the UK.
So what’s involved in collecting and storing cord blood? For public storage, the hospital will handle it all on the day you give birth. If you choose to go private, the company you choose to use will be responsible for providing all the details and the kit you will need on the big day.
If you get a kit from your storage bank simply pop it in your hospital bag, take it with you on the big day, hand it to your designated phlebotomist (whether that is one you have provided or one provided for you), and then once the sample is collected you contact the courier and pass it on to them. From there, your sample will be delivered to a lab for processing and then storage. Everything you could need is right there in the kit, you don’t have to do anything.
Is it worth it?
Much like lots of things throughout your pregnancy, what you want to do is your choice to make. Chat with your doctor, midwife and your family and birth partner about the pros and cons of the options available to you. Make sure you do what you think is best for you and your family.