Cord blood is the baby’s blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after birth. Cord blood can be collected and stored for future use. Cord blood is not collected as a routine. Cord blood contains stem cells. Stem cells can grow into different kinds of cells in the body.The stem cells from the cord blood can be used for treatment of various conditions (blood diseases, leukaemia, sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia, immune diseases and metabolic diseases.) Research is on to see if stem cells can be used to cure diabetes. In cord blood transplant, stem cells replace diseased cells and grow to form the mature healthy cells that are required in the body.
Cord blood transplants can be used as an alternative to bone marrow transplants to treat some disorders. This has mainly been successful in treating young patients for leukaemia. Cord blood transplant has some advantages over that of a bone marrow transplant. There are fewer complications with a cord blood transplant and it is easier to find a match from stem cells than from bone marrow. There are certain drawbacks too. Sometimes the cord blood may be insufficient and enough cells may not be obtained for the transplant.
Cord blood banks are organizations, which store cord blood. In India the choice of storing cord blood lies with the would-be parents of the child. There are many cord blood banks in India – for eg. Lifecell, Cryobanks, Baby Cell and many more. The parents can decide to store the cord blood of their child. This blood is then available to the family in case they have a person in the family who at a later date needs the cord blood to treat a disorder that is treatable by stem cells. There is a possibility that the cord blood is never used. The would-be parents can choose the company with which they want to store the cord blood. The terms and conditions of the contract are between the patient and the company. The doctor is not a party to the contract. Parents-to-be are advised to understand all the terms and conditions and review all current literature and then make their own decision regarding cord blood banking.
Once you have decided to do cord blood banking then the company gives you a kit to carry to the hospital when you get admitted for delivery. The cord blood is collected immediately after the delivery of the baby. This process does not harm the baby or the mother. The blood is then transported to the laboratory by the personnel of the company. Once in the laboratory it is tested, processed and then cryo-preserved.