Cord blood is the blood that remains in the vein of the umbilical cord and placenta at the time of birth. Banking is the process of collecting, processing and cryogenically freezing and preserving the cord blood for potential future medical use. There was a time when the umbilical cord and its blood were considered medical waste. Today, parents bank or store their baby's cord blood because it is rich in a particular type of stem cell. These stem cells are currently utilized in a variety of treatments for life-threatening and debilitating diseases.

Soon after the first cord blood transplant, some of the first private cord blood banks were established to provide parents the opportunity to store their baby's cord blood. In fact, Cryo-Cell is the world’s first private cord blood bank. Later on, Cryo-Cell's banking process was licensed to companies around the globe. Those companies have grown to become some of the largest stem cell banking companies in Europe, India, Mexico and other countries, providing families around the world access to therapies using their own child's stem cells. In addition, today, many states have publicly-held cord blood banks, and 31 states have adopted a law or have a piece of pending legislation that requires or encourages OBGYNs to educate expecting parents about cord blood banking. This leaves expecting parents with a choice whether to donate their baby's stem cells to others or to research via a public bank or keep their baby's stem cells through a private bank.

Read more about public versus private banking.
 

How much does private cord blood banking cost?

Private cord blood banks such as Cryo-Cell often have an upfront fee for collecting, processing and cryo-perserving the cord blood. Banks like us also often charge a yearly fee for continued storage. At Cryo-Cell, we strive to give all parents the chance to store their baby’s umbilical cord blood for the future health of their family. We offer special discounts and offers for multiple births, returning customers, referrals, military families, medical professionals, long-term, pre-paid storage plans and more. In addition, we have in-house financing options to keep cord blood banking in everyone’s reach.

Read more about how much cord blood banking costs at Cryo-Cell.
 

Benefits of private cord blood banking

Matched stem cells necessary for transplants are difficult to obtain through public cord blood banks. Once a match is ascertained, it may take valuable weeks, even months, to retrieve the matched blood, and the cost of acquiring the cord blood from a public bank can be upwards of $40,000.

When stem cells from the newborn’s umbilical cord blood are banked privately, they can be retrieved quickly, and since the parents own the cord blood, banks like us perform the retrieval free of charge. These stem cells are a perfect match for the lifetime of the baby, and with the continued advancement of stem cell technologies, the likelihood of utilizing the preserved stem cells in a lifetime will continue to grow. At present, the odds of undergoing any stem cell transplant by age 70 stands at 1 in 217.

Banked cord blood is not only available for the donor but also available for other family members as well. Statistics show that there is a greater chance for success in a stem cell transplant between siblings than with unrelated donors and recipients. There is also a reduced likelihood of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a major complication of stem cell transplants that can range from mild to acute and even chronic. According to the National Institutes of Health, the risk and severity of GVHD after a stem cell transplant depends on the relationship between the donor and the receiver:
 
  • Identical twins: very low chance of suffering from GVHD
  • Blood-related family members: 35%–45% chance of GVHD
  • Unrelated: 60%–80% chance of GVHD

Read more about the benefits of private cord blood banking.
cord blood collection kit Cryo-Cell's cord blood collection kit
While banking cord blood is a new experience for many parents, it is a simple process. After all, most mothers are worried about how the delivery will go and don’t want to also be worried about the details of collecting, processing and cryopreserving their baby’s stem cells. Thankfully, the healthcare provider and the cord blood bank do most of the work:
  • The cord blood bank sends you a collection kit. Kits like ours just need to be stored at room temperature.
  • The collection kit goes with the expecting parents to the delivery center.
  • Upon admission, the mother’s blood is collected to be tested for any infectious diseases as mandated by federal regulations.
  • Upon birth but before the placenta is delivered, the healthcare provider will clamp and cut the umbilical cord as normal. It is here that the healthcare provider will extract the cord blood from the umbilical cord.
  • There is absolutely no pain or risk to the mother or child during the collection process.
  • The collection bag with the baby’s cord blood and the vials with the mother’s blood are placed back inside the collection kit.
  • Parents call a toll-free number on the collection kit to have medical courier—any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week—arrange for its transportation to the cord blood bank.
 

Delayed cord clamping

The parents who make the decision to store their baby’s cord blood and cord tissue are thinking ahead, wanting to do right from the start (even before the start), and taking steps to do whatever they can to protect their baby down the road. Today, many conscientious parents are also considering delayed cord clamping (DCC), a practice in which the umbilical cord is not clamped immediately but rather after it continues to pulse for an average of 30 seconds to 180 seconds. Many parents don’t realize that they can delay the clamping of the cord and still bank their baby’s cord blood.

Read more delayed cord clamping.
 

Premium cord blood processing: PrepaCyte®-CB

An advanced, premium processing method goes hand in hand with delayed cord clamping. Called PrepaCyte®-CB, it yields the highest number of stem cells (what you want) while showing the greatest reduction in red blood cells (what you don't). In addition to being the premier processing method, it is essential to being able to delay the cord clamping and cord blood bank. Because of the delay in clamping, a smaller quantity of cord blood is collected, so the quality of that cord blood needs to make up for the decrease in quantity. The PrepaCyte® cord blood processing is the best method to ensure that you can collect your baby’s cord blood stem cells and delay the clamping of the cord.

Read more about PrepaCyte®-CB.
 

Processing and cryopreservation

Upon arrival at the bank, the cord blood is tested for microbiological contamination, and the mother’s blood is tested for infectious diseases. Cord blood is then processed to reduce the number of red blood cells and isolate the stem cells. These cells are then mixed with a cryo-protectant and stored in a cryo-bag. We overwrap our bags for added protection and use a technique called "controlled-rate freezing" to prepare the cells for long-term storage. The overwrapped cryo-bag is housed in a protective metal cassette and placed in vapor phase nitrogen freezer for long-term preservation.

Read more about Cryo-Cell’s banking process.
human body with cord blood treatmentsCord blood has an abundance of stem cells, and the medical use of these stem cells has been expanding at a rapid pace. Today, stem cell treatments and transplants have been performed more than 35,000 times around the globe to treat cancers (including lymphoma and leukemia), inherited metabolic disorders and much more. Cord blood stem cells are currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of more than 80 diseases. And that list is growing. Luckily for expecting parents, some of the best stem cells can be easily collected at the baby’s birth via the umbilical cord. This is why pregnancy is a great time to collect and bank stem cells.
 

Hematopoietic stem cells

stem cells differentiate into other cell typesA stem cell has the potential to become one of many different cells.
Hematopoiesis (Greek “to make blood” and pronounced he-mah-toe-po-ee-sis) is the process by which our blood cells are formed. The stem cells that source this process are called hematopoietic stem cells. Hematopoietic stem cells can become two catgories of cells: myeloid and lymphoid cells. Myeloid cells go on to form your red blood cells, platelets, and other cells of the blood. Lymphoid cells go on to become the B cells and T cells and are the basis for the immune system. Bone marrow and cord blood are rich in these hematopoietic stem cells and are often used in the treatment of a number of diseases or conditions involving the blood or immune system.

 
Read more about the regenerative power of stem cells.
 

Cord blood versus bone marrow

Stem cells extracted from the umbilical cord blood have been shown to be more advantageous than those extracted from other sources such as bone marrow. In many ways, this is because stem cells from the umbilical cord can be considered na├»ve and immature compared to stem cells from other sources. Cord stem cells haven’t been exposed to disease or environmental pollutants. In this case, inexperience makes them stronger.

Most importantly, they are more accepting of foreign cells and 100% perfect match for the donor (baby). The closer the match between patient and donor, the less likely the patient will suffer from graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), which can be debilitating and, in some instances, fatal. The one big commonality between bone marrow and cord blood stem cells is that they both mostly comprise hematopoietic stem cells.

 
Here are some of the ways cord stem cells are better than other stem cells:
  • Preserved cord stem cells are promptly available when needed.
  • Bone marrow stem cells require an invasive, surgical procedure.
  • Preserved cord stem cells are more tolerant of tissue mismatches and show a reduced incidence of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).
  • Preserved cord stem cells have a decreased risk of transmissible viral infections.
  • Preserved cord stem cells have the ability to cross the blood–brain barrier and differentiate into neurons and other brain cells, which may be instrumental in treating some brain disorders.
 

Cord tissue's stem cells

There are other stem cells that can be collected during the cord blood banking process. One type is found in the tissue surrounding the umbilical cord's vein and other vessels. Cord tissue, or Wharton’s jelly, is rich in mesenchymal (meh-sen-ki-mal) stem cells (MSCs). Mesenchymal stem cells can become a host of cells including those found in your nervous system, sensory organs, circulatory tissues, skin, bone, cartilage, and more. These stem cells are currently undergoing clinical trials for sports injuries, heart and kidney disease, ALS, wound healing and autoimmune disease.

Learn more about cord tissue banking.
Banking cord blood is a new type of medical protection, and there are a lot of questions that parents may want to ask. The Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood organization even has questions it believes all parents should ask their cord blood banks. We have answers to those and other frequently asked cord blood questions in our FAQs. If you can’t find the answer for which you are looking, please feel free to engage one of our cord blood educators through the website's chat interface.