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What Is Cord Blood Banking?

what-is-cord-blood-banking.jpgCord blood banking is the collection and storage of stem cells taken from the blood of the umbilical cord after the birth of a child. The process requires a special kit that expecting parents can order from the cord-blood bank of their choice. The kit will include everything the doctors or midwives need to collect the cord blood successfully. The procedure is performed shortly after the baby’s birth in both vaginal and c-section deliveries. Some hospitals perform the collection of cord blood, so a parent who chooses to use a private bank should inform their doctor or attending staff.

In a vaginal delivery, the umbilical cord is clamped off on both sides before the doctors remove it. Generally, the cord blood is collected by the doctor or experienced nurse before the placenta is delivered. After the umbilical cord is removed, one side is unclamped, and a small tube is placed into the vein of the umbilical cord to collect the stem cell rich blood. Next, the placenta is liberated and needles are inserted into the large blood vessels that have fed the fetus during growth.In a c-section birth, collecting the cord-blood is more difficult because the doctor’s main focus is the mother. Only after the infant has been delivered and the mother has been stitched up can the cord blood be collected safely. Due to the delay, there is normally less cord blood than the amount collected from vaginal births. It is extremely important to gather as much cord blood as possible — more cord blood equals more stem cells. The more stem cells you have improves the chances of a successful transplant if the need should ever arise.

After the cord blood has been collected, the blood is stored in bags or syringes. A quick call to the cord-blood bank, then a courier comes and whisks the blood back to the bank. The bank then tags it with an identifying number. Then the facility performs a procedure to separate the stem cells from the rest of the blood. The technicians use liquid nitrogen to freeze the sample and promptly store it. The stem cells can then be thawed in the future if needed and used for blood transplants for the donor. Privately-stored cord blood stem cells are available for use by that child or a genetically-matched family member.

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