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Cord Blood Banking

Providing Information on Umbilical Cord Blood Banking

When the umbilical cord is cut following a child's birth, some of the blood remains in the part of the cord attached to the placenta. This is called umbilical cord blood, or cord blood for short. Unlike regular blood that flows through the body, umbilical cord blood is rich with stem cells similar to those found in bone marrow. These stem cells can be transplanted to treat immune and genetic diseases, as well as some childhood illnesses such as leukemia.

Cord blood banking is the process of preserving the valuable stem cells for future use in transplant treatments. The blood is stored in liquid nitrogen, effectively freezing and preserving the cells for several years. In theory, cord blood may be preserved indefinitely and still remain viable. However, cord blood science is a relatively new study and more research needs to be conducted before a definite conclusion can be reached on the expiration date.

Umbilical cord blood can be banked for private use, or donated to cord blood banks that preserve the blood for use on any child with a blood stem cell need. In general, one may consider banking cord blood if there are known genetic disorders in the family, or as a precaution against possible diseases. The hospital discards the blood along with the placenta if no decision is made to bank it.

Are There Advantages of Cord Blood Banking?

Umbilical cord blood is rich with stem cells that can be used to treat immune and genetic diseases, including leukemia, autoimmune diseases, plasma cell disorders and congenital immune system disorders, among other diseases. Science is researching the use of cord stem cells for treatment of other serious conditions, such as Alzheimer's and heart disease. In the future, stem cells may be used to grow new organs or treat spinal cord injuries. In short, the stem cells retrieved from cord blood can help save people's lives, including your baby's.

Some people dispute the value of cord blood banking, however. See our article " Medical Value of Storing Cord Blood Is Disputed." You should make the decision only after careful consideration of both sides of the issue. Consider the advantages and weigh it against your situation. Is your child perfectly healthy with no known genetic defects? While there are benefits, you may decide that cord blood banking is simply not right for you.

What Is Involved in Cord Blood Transplant?

A cord blood transplant works much like a blood transfusion. If your child is receiving the transplant, he or she will undergo intense chemotherapy prior to the transplant in order to clear the diseased cells. On the day of the transplant, a central line is inserted in your child's chest and blood cells are transferred into the body through an IV. The entire process takes about an hour, after which the stem cells should settle into the bone marrow and start growing healthy new cells, called platelets. Recovery from the transplant may take as long as a few months. During this time, medical professionals will closely monitor your child.

Can Cord Blood Help Your Child?

Cord blood may be used to treat illnesses and diseases that harm the immune system. Unfortunately, they cannot reverse birth injuries or many birth defects. It is best to speak with a health care provider to discuss the use of cord blood to treat your child's illness.

The Birth Injury Team is a subsidiary of Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., made up of experienced attorneys and medical professionals. Our lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience handling birth injury cases. We are dedicated to helping parents understand their child's condition and guiding them through the process of securing the care and support they need. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients across the United States.


Located in Philadelphia, Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., home of MyPhillyLawyer, serves clients in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and throughout the United States.

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