For an expectant mother, there are a million details to worry about and a lot of important decisions to be made.
One of those decisions to be made is whether to bank your baby’s umbilical cord blood. Cord blood is valuable because it’s full of stem cells scientists and doctors can use in research and regenerative medicine.
“Cord blood stem cells are the ones that are obtained from the newborn. They’re closest in age to being an embryonic stem cell without being an embryonic stem cell,” said David Harris, PhD with Cord Blood Registry.
When they’re stored properly in a bank, like one in Arizona, the stem cells can be used to replace other cells in our bodies that may be damaged or missing due to disease. But, you only have one chance to harvest them.
“At the time of delivery, before the placenta is delivered, we have a little bag with a needle and a tube, like an IV tubing, and we actually draw the blood out of the placenta into a prepared bag and that’s what you send in to the cord blood banking people,” said Dr. Lynn Frame.
But, Dr. Frame says very few of his patients actually do it because of the cost.
Most private cord blood banks charge more than $1,000 up front. Then, for every year you store the blood in one of their cryogenic tanks, it costs about $100. For 18 years of storage, it can add up to about $3,000.