Donating cord blood shouldn’t be seen as something that every parent should do, while it is an important decision to make, it should be pursued without influence or biasness. Depending on where you get information about cord blood donation, you may find that at times it is confusing and tempting to lure to do so. There are myth about cord blood banking that may make you think that it is the only way you can get stem cells which can differentiate or specialize and become organs.
Should You Donate Cord Blood?
You may be told that banking cord blood is a once-in-lifetime opportunity because it allows you to store your infant’s cord blood stem cells that you could gain access to in the future. That’s right and probably true, but how sure are you that you will need that blood? Chances are that you may need it or not, even in some situations, you may find that doctors don’t recommend the use of own cord blood for treatment. For example, in treating leukemia because the cord blood cells of the infant may not fight off the blood cancer more effectively, so stem cells from another infant or person may probably do it better.
Uses of Cord Blood
Cord blood comprises progenitor and hematopoietic cells that are capable of replacing diseased blood cells by initiating healthy blood-forming cells. Since 1988, more than 5,500 children have been treated with cord blood cells. A majority of the diseases are of blood, cancer, immune, or metabolic origin. For example, the stem cells have been utilized to cure leukemia, immune system disorders, and lymphoma. Something to note here is that, it’s only a few cases that the children have obtained treatment using their own cord blood cells.
That being said, Peter Weiss, M.D, an expert in the field and an assistant clinical professor in the line of obstetrics in the University of California, Los Angeles is excited that there is a huge potential to cord blood stem cells to solve other many health problems from diabetes to heart disease to Alzheimer’s disease to spinal cord injuries. Because cord blood cells are immature and so naive, they can become new blood cells or even become nerve cells, or new muscle cells.1,2
Weighting The Option to Cord Blood Banking
It is important that parents weigh the pros and cons of banking cord blood. The cord blood banking cost is somewhere between $6000 and $10,000 depending on the facility. The initial cost may range from $1500 to $2500 with additional cost that is in form of annual storage fees that ranges from $100 to $200. It can be a tall order for a parent to make the decision to incur this cost in the hope of using the blood in future considering that there is no definitive proof of the wider or broader uses of cord blood and self use.
Nonetheless, donation of cord blood is still a very important thing even if you or your relative or child won’t use it. There are many people out there who desperately need it. The big question is; is the purported benefit of donating cord blood and the subsequent use being done in a transparent manner? People need to know what they are getting into when donating blood to private and public banks. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has provided advice on private cord blood banking as a biological insurance for the family. Simply said, private cord blood banking isn’t for every parent.1
The scientific research regarding use of cord blood cells is a continuous development so it is considered a personal choice for a parent to store cord blood. It is pretty important that before parents store cord blood, they should make an informed choice. There are special situations in which parents may consider private cord blood banking. This is when there is a family with a child already having a disease like leukemia or thalassemia but the next child isn’t fully HLA identical. If you want to donate cord blood, then public banking is a better alternative.3
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- Banking on Hope. https://www.thebump.com/a/banking-on-hope-storing-babys-cord-blood
- Cord Blood Banking is Not Insurance for the Future. https://www.acsh.org/news/2017/10/13/cord-blood-banking-not-insurance-future-11957
- Myths About Private Cord Blood Banking. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12098-015-2026-6