Cord Blood Banking -- What Every Parent Should Know
Cord blood banking is been a hot topic among parents-to-be. In the past, this stem-cell-rich blood was usually discarded. Today, though, it can be captured and “banked” in a procedure which takes three to five ounces of blood from the umbilical cord at birth and stores it for future use.
This stem-cell-rich blood can be a real lifesaver to people with certain diseases, like leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anemia.
However, sending your baby’s cord blood to a private bank for your family’s exclusive use can be expensive, and, may well be a waste of money.
Chances are very small that your child or a close relative will have a medical need that can be addressed by your baby’s cord blood. Many of the diseases for which stem cells are useful have genetic components, so the cord blood would have the same affected genes – not healthy genes for helping defeat that disease. The National Cord Blood Program has a more complete explanation about this online.
Plus, with current storage methods the cord blood will be good for up to about 10 years, lessening even further the likelihood that your child or family will need it within that time frame.
Physicians may recommend, though, that you bank cord blood at a private bank if you have a relative with leukemia, sickle cell anemia or other blood disorders.
But it would be a shame to let this stem-cell-rich blood go to waste.
For parents who deliver their babies at the Gwinnett Women’s Pavilion, there’s a better option. Just like public blood banks store blood for use by anyone, public cord blood banks are storing cord blood, at no cost to the parents.
When someone needs cord blood stem cells for, say, leukemia treatment, these cord blood banks can help provide a suitably-matched donation. Most doctors and medical organizations support public donation of cord blood.
Gwinnett Medical Center is working with LifeCord, an FDA-licensed cord blood bank of LifeSouth Community Blood Centers to offer this service.
“We are excited to partner with Gwinnett Medical Center to offer this opportunity here in the Metro Atlanta area,” said LifeCord Director Richard Jones. “Donating cord blood is painless for mother and baby, and there is no charge for the life-saving service.”
Gwinnett Medical Center becomes LifeCord’s 11th hospital and its third in Georgia.
“Gwinnett Women’s Pavilion not only welcomes a lot of babies into the world, it also serves a very diverse group of moms and dads, and that’s vital for us,” said Jones. “This will add the diversity we are looking for to add to the Be The Match registry.”
More About Cord Blood
Cord blood is rich with blood-forming stem cells that can help patients in need of a bone marrow transplant. Cord blood transplants have successfully treated cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, and other diseases of the bone marrow. After a patient’s diseased marrow is destroyed, the transplanted cord blood stem cells act like seeds to re-grow healthy, functioning marrow.
Cord blood offers some practical advantages over traditional adult marrow or stem cell donations. While the tissue from an adult donor must be matched with near pinpoint accuracy to a recipient, cord blood can succeed with less perfect matching. It’s also tested, frozen and ready for transplant, saving time for patients in need.
Because matches are based on tissue types, patients who need a transplant are more likely to match a donor of the same race or ethnicity. Cord blood collected from racially diverse communities is desirable and will help treat patients around the globe. LifeCord donors have already helped with transplants in 29 states and 15 countries.
Minority patients face greater odds when it comes to finding a match for a transplant. According to Be The Match a white patient has a 97 percent chance of finding a match, but an Hispanic or Latino patient has only an 83 percent chance, while an African-American or Black patient has only a 76 percent chance. Cord blood’s unique properties help close that gap.
“LifeSouth has served hospitals in Georgia for more than two decades, and we look forward to offering this service here in the Atlanta area,” Jones said.
Women’s Services at Gwinnett Medical Center
For more than 65 years, we have offered comprehensive services designed for every stage of a woman’s life – from maternity education courses to a neonatal intensive care unit and a wide range of imaging and screening services. Learn more at gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/women.