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Saving Cord Blood Stem Cells

by Michele Granum | 0 Comments

I would like to share with you the importance of preserving your newborn's umbilical cord blood stem cells. I had just found out from a neighbor, when I was in my fifth month of pregnancy, about this wonderful opportunity. She had told me that there was a procedure that could save the blood from my newborn's umbilical cord, and cryopreserve it, should we unexpectedly need it in the future.

"Cryopreserve?" I asked myself. I had never heard of that term before. So, I researched it and found that the nurse or OB/GYN at the hospital collects the stem cells, when the umbilical cord is clamped and cut in the normal manner. Then, as much blood (stem cells) as possible is drawn from the umbilical cord. After the cord blood has been collected, the specimen is then ready to be packaged for shipping (this is usually done by the expectant parents or a family member). The collection kit contains all of the material and instructions needed for the physician or nurse to collect the specimen, and for the parents to ship the specimen to the laboratory, so it was very easy. The cord blood stem cells have to be sent within 24-30 hours after the cord is cut.

I also found that the stem cells that are collected, which are usually discarded at birth, are the building blocks of our immune systems. They form the white cells that fight infection, red cells that carry oxygen throughout our body, and platelets that promote healing. Stem cells are found in bone marrow, where they continue to generate cells throughout our lives.

If ever necessary, umbilical cord blood stem cells can be a substitute for bone marrow in transplants, which treat a number of life-threatening diseases. Treatments involving radiation or chemotherapy often destroy the immune system. In the event a transplant is ever needed, umbilical cord blood has a number of important advantages over bone marrow. Treatments using umbilical cord stem cells can be less costly than bone marrow transplants. More importantly, there is the fact that they are a perfect match for the child from whom they are collected, thus eliminating the process of a matching donor and the risks of rejection.

Government statistics show that 59% of all pregnant women already have one or more children in the family. Umbilical cord stem cells have a one-in-four chance of being an exact match for a sibling. Experts believe that sibling cord blood transplants have a greater chance for success than cells from an unrelated donor, and recipients have less chance of developing Graft-Versus-Host Disease (GVHD) following a transplant.

The decision to store my son's cord blood had to be made several weeks before the expected delivery date. The cord blood can only be collected at the time of delivery, and many times babies arrive earlier than expected. Therefore, it was very important for us to make this decision well before the birth of our son. We were told this would allow time to discuss this procedure with our physician/midwife, and make the necessary arrangements for the shipping of the specimen.

The procedure was painless for my son and myself, since it was done after the cord was cut. More importantly it's very affordable. Compared to other storage facilities (whose costs are ,000 to 00 for the first year, and an annual storage fee of .00 to 0.00), we paid 5.00, which was for the processing, testing, collection kit and the first year of storage, and then .00 annually.

I found out the reason why one company can be much more affordable than another. The facility that we used has a laboratory on site; so all processing is there. Other facilities have to send their specimens out to other labs for processing, so they have to charge their clients for this service, which can be very costly.

The cells are stored in a cryogenic environment, in a state-of-the-art cellular storage system, at extremely low temperatures. At that time, all cellular activity then ceases. If needed in the future for a transplant, the stem cells are thawed, and cellular activity commences.

So, how could I not do this for my child? It was the most important decision my husband and I could ever make. Now, we have a healthy baby boy and I will always have that reassurance of preserving his stem cells.

Michele Granum is involved in a network of moms called "Mother to Mother Educational Network," to help educate expectant parents about this life-saving opportunity. If you have any more questions or comments, or would like a kit sent to you, please e-mail Article contributed by

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Why Cord Blood Is So Precious

Choosing a Cord Blood Bank

How Cord Blood Banking Works

Public & Private Cord Blood Banking


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