Cord blood remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after the birth of the baby. As cord blood is rich in stem cells, it is becoming more and more common to collect and then store these cells at birth for future medical use. Tissue from the umbilical cord itself also contains stem cells. Cord tissue can be collected at the same time as the cord blood, although it is stored separately.
Collection is completely painless for both mother and child and in fact, the cord and placenta are usually discarded as medical waste.
Stem cells are the original building blocks of life because they can change into all the specialised cells that make up the human body. Umbilical cord blood is rich in haematopoietic stem cells that become the red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other immune cells in our blood. Umbilical cord tissue contains mesenchymal stem cells which form a variety of cells including cartilage, nerve, bone, skin, tendons, ligaments and muscle.
Various international studies have found that stem cells can regenerate or facilitate the repair of cells damaged by disease, genetics or injury. In less than a generation, therapies have emerged for over 80 blood disorders and immune system conditions – such as leukaemia, anaemia and autoimmune diseases – where cord blood stem cells are used to regenerate bone marrow. There are trials underway for treatments of cerebral palsy, autism, brain injury and Type 1 diabetes.
Trials using stem cells from cord tissue are underway for skin regeneration, orthopaedics such as cartilage and bone repair, and in the fields of neurology and cardiology.
Stem cells are a perfect match for the baby they are collected from, so there is no risk of rejection after transplant.
There is also a 1 in 4 possibility that their stem cells will be a match for a sibling.
Umbilical cord stem cell banking is a form of medical insurance – hopefully the stem cells are never needed. But, regenerative therapies are an emerging, and extremely promising, area of medical science. As more therapies using stem cells are developed, the likelihood of their use increases.
What to look for in a stem cell storage provider
Start considering umbilical cord stem cell banking from around 20 weeks of pregnancy to allow enough time to research providers and storage options and budget for the costs. The registration process is quick, and the collection kit can be delivered within 48 hours of a successful registration and initial payment. Many hospitals carry emergency collection kits should the baby arrive a little earlier than planned.
Netcells offers several storage options and interest-free payment plans, allowing parents to tailor-make a payment plan that suits their needs.
For more information and detailed pricing, visit the Next Biosciences website: https://nextbio.co.za/pricing-calculator/ or call 011 697 2900.