Stem Cell Banking is a term that raises many questions in every expectant parent’s mind. What is it? How does it work? What are the pros and cons? Do I need it?
Read on to understand stem cell banking and take the important decision to help secure your child health in future.
What is Stem Cell Banking?
Stem cells are lifesaving cells found in the cord blood present in the umbilical cord and placenta. Stem cell banking involves storing this cord blood in safe stem cell banks for future medical use for your child and family.
Stem cells are highly valuable since these stem cells can transform into different types of blood cells and plays an important role in treating diseases affecting the blood and immune system. These cells can morph into any cell including liver cells, brain cells and even blood cells and renew itself through cell division lifelong.
How Does It Work?
It involves extracting the blood out of the clamped umbilical cord when the baby is born and shipping the collected blood off to the bank, without a single needle pricking either mother or baby. The blood has to be collected without delay, right after birth, or else the blood will clot and be useless.
- Stem cell transplantation can help treat many diseases that harm the blood and immune system, such as leukemia, some cancers, sickle-cell anemia, and some metabolic disorders.
- If you plan to store the umbilical cord along with the cord blood, cord tissues found in the cord can also facilitate in treating many diseases related to cartilage, muscle, and nerve cells.
- Cost – while stem cell banking is becoming more affordable, it is still an expensive option to consider. Depending on the plan you choose, long term banking for over 20 years, multiple location storage or number of installments, are some factors that can affect the price considerably.
- Since more cells are needed for an effective transplantation in an adult, it is probable that there might not be enough cells for a transplant.
- The technology is still evolving and more studies are still underway, it is not clear for how long can blood cells be viably stored.
- Certain diseases like genetic disorders and some cancers where the body is producing the wrong cells, transplanting the patient’s own stem cells will not be helpful.
Should you consider it?
Stem cells are being used today to treat more than 40 diseases and ongoing research suggests that the number will significantly rise. So it is quite evident that the banking does have a lot of potential for saving lives.
However, it is not always affordable and parents should not feel that they have deprived their child of something if not possible. Public cord banks can offer some help if need be and there are alternate treatments for all diseases in modern times.