Umbilical Cord Blood is Liquid Gold

August 15th, 2011 by admin Leave a reply »

After your baby is born, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut but some blood remains in the cord. It turns out that this umbilical cord blood is actually liquid gold.  The stem cells in cord blood are very flexible biologically and can be transplanted in people to treat a number of life-threatening diseases. In fact, cord blood can be used as a treatment for more than 60 diseases- including various kinds of cancers, inherited metabolism disorders and immune system diseases. 

Families have three options when it comes to cord blood.  They can decide to discard the blood, donate it to a public cord bank, or keep it in a family cord blood bank (the family bank costs about $1K plus some annual storage charges).  Cord blood that’s collected can be stored at either a public cord blood bank or family cord blood bank.  The cells are stored in liquid Nitrogen- and remain good for at least 25 years. 

Nationally and in Arizona there’s a shortage of cord blood being collected from Native American and Hispanic folks, meaning that they aren’t as able to find a good match in public banks and can’t benefit from treatment to the same extent as other folks.  If a patient is Native American and does not have a family member match, the chance of finding matching cord blood is only 1% and Hispanics the chance of a match is 7%.  The percentage is much higher for other populations.  That’s where a successful new program comes in that is being funded by our Arizona Biomedical Research Commission.  

Two years ago the Commission conducted a national survey looking for a partner to create an Arizona public cord blood collection and banking. They picked ClinImmune Labs at the University of Colorado Denver as its collaborator. The program kicked off last month with its first donation into the bank.  Over the coming years, ClinImmune will process and store the cord blood collected from 3 hospitals that deliver a large percentage of Native American and Hispanic babies- Maricopa Medical Center, St. Josephs, and Phoenix Baptist. 

The Commission has committed $560K per year for the next three years to support this project as seed money.  Half of the proceeds of cord blood from Arizona that are shipped to transplant centers will come back to the program to support the project in future years.  The federal government is also pitching in about $2M per year for the first 3 years. 

By the way- check out our revamped Arizona Biomedical Research Commission  webpages.  Thanks go out to Jeff Burgess, Jesse Lewis, Gannon Wegner, Jennifer Tweedy and Shoana Anderson for overhauling the site and making it user friendly.

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5 comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    About 2 years ago I learned all about cord blood with the birth of our first child. It was a whole new world to me and it truly makes you think as a parent. Should we store it? Donate it?

    We know medicine will continue to advance at the full-speed-ahead rate it has been, so we decided to go ahead and make the investment and keep it. And of course, this is one investment that we hope that we never, ever have to use.

    At the end of the day, it does provide some peace of mind.

    I do hope that as time goes on the prices for storage will go down.

    As a side note – I’m not sure how companies got our info, but cord banking companies sent us information marketing their services. So it is an obvious profit center; a great one at that.

  2. Sarah Hill says:

    I just learned about cord blood and after a lot of thinking, we decided we will store our child’s with Stemcyte. I think it is the right decision!

  3. Mike says:

    When we had our first kid we heard about cord blood but never really knew much about it. When we had our second kid we had some money issues but wish we had planned ahead. If we decide to have a 3rd then we will make sure we have enough saved up!

  4. Paul Usami says:

    We also decided to store our child’s cord blood. I read a lot about it and then just decided to be safe than sorry.

  5. As a pediatric nurse I have noticed it has become more popular for the parents to choose to save the cord blood in the past couple of years. It seems to be an upward trend.

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