The Umbilical cord blood banking is taking over rapidly in India. At least over a dozen stem cell banks have popped up in the Indian sub-continent!
If you’re reading this post, you might be expecting. You must have thought of buying the much-hyped insurance policy called umbilical cord blood banking for your baby! Before I begin with the pros, cons and the cost associated with the umbilical cord bank preservation, you must exercise exactly, what is umbilical cord blood banking or the stem cell preservation!?
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What is Umbilical Cord Blood Banking?
With the advancements in the biotechnology field, there is a section which is working tirelessly to shape the stem cells in the human body to some profitable outcomes.
What is a Stem Cell?
A stem cell is the immature progenitor cells (better to call them as precursor cells or hematopoietic progenitor cells). They are one of those parent cells of the body which have actually multiplied, differentiated into specialized cells and created the whole human body!
In multiple steps, these progenitor cells give rise to many more different cellular structures, then forming specialized tissue colonies. These tissues assemble and form the organs for specialized functions, the organ systems and then finally the complete human body.
Therefore, in short, it is the work of these parent stem cell that will give rise to any cell variety in the human body. Thus, if the stem cell is stored at the time of birth, it could be utilized for treating over a dozen life-threatening health issues in the later life.
The organizations providing the facility to store umbilical cord blood cell acts like any other insurance policy, who collects and protects your baby’s stem cells.
So, in the unfortunate circumstances, these companies will deliver the stored umbilical cord blood cells of your baby to the requested location (or, the hospital treating the chronic disease of your baby!).
How are Stem Cells collected for the Umbilical Cord Blood Banking?
Well, this one is real good news for you!
Unlike many other medical procedures, umbilical cord blood banking is totally a pain free procedure.
Neither you, nor your baby is at risk for developing any complications or side-effects. The stem cell extraction can be done at the time of delivery of the baby. Either of the methods of delivery (Cesarean section or Normal delivery), can be used to extract the stem cells for cord blood banking for your baby.
The baby is connected with the mother with is a connecting loop called the Umbilical Cord. This umbilical cord transfers nutrients from mother to the baby with the help of arteries and veins in the loop.
During the stem cell collection, an intra-venous catheter is inserted in the umbilical vein located in the umbilical cord. This drains the blood from the umbilical vein along with the progenitor stem cells into a store bag placed on the floor for the faster flow. Few ml of blood is collected and the catheter is withdrawn. The cord is clamped, cut safely, and the baby is detached from the mother.
Furthermore, the procedure is absolutely PAINLESS, as this catheter doesn’t pierce you or your baby’s body tissues. By the time you realize the pleasure of delivering your baby, it’s already done (stem cells for your baby are collected safely)!
The developed nations have been a bit successful in preserving and treating the chronic problems lately. Let’s have a look on various medical issues which MAY be treated by the use of Stem cell therapy.
Medical problems that MAY be treated by umbilical cord blood banking
- Leukemias (Blood cancer) and other Myelo-Dysplastic Syndromes
- Aplastic Anaemia (Remember Heer in the movie Rockstar)
- Polycythemia Vera (Very high amount of Red cells in blood)
- Some Platelet disorders
- Some Inherited Syndromes
- Multiple Myeloma
- Solid tumors like Retinoblastoma (Eye), Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma (Brain)
- Neurologic disorders like Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal cord injury
- Certain Autoimmune and Cardiovascular disorders
The Pros of buying stem cell therapy and umbilical cord blood banking:
This is practically a painless procedure and can be done at the time of Cesarean or Normal delivery. Therefore, you don’t require pain killers to eliminate the pain.
NO MATCHING REQUIRED –
No perfect match is required to use them in your later life, as they are your own precursor cells. This gives an upper hand and is the biggest advantage of the stem cell banking.
SUPERIOR THAN BONE MARROW CELLS –
The stem cells are considered to be SUPERIOR (and more immature, which is actually good) than the conventional bone marrow stem cells, which are used in the current years.
NO FURTHER INVESTIGATIONS REQUIRED –
All tests are already completed just after collecting the stem cells and stored frozen, ready to use. You don’t require a different set of tests before using your own stem cells in future.
NO INFECTION –
Practically, while using your own stem cells in future will have a very less chances of transmitting viral infections which are very common if you use the donated stem cells.
The cons of buying stem cell banking or umbilical cord blood preservation:
NEVER USED –
Most experts explain that the chances are very remote that a child will ever use his/ her own stored cord blood. This is because, the diseases in children that can be treated with the use of stem cells are extremely rare.
VERY EXPENSIVE –
The cost of umbilical cord blood banking and stem cell preservation is an expensive affair. Prices may vary from INR 60,000 to INR 1,00,000 for the initial processing. Furthermore, the cord blood collection centers may charge an annual storage fee of roughly INR 5,000 to INR 10,000. So, this stem cell preservation stands heavy on your pockets in terms of cost-benefit ratio.
LESS POTENCY OF THE CELLS OVER THE YEARS –
Stored up cord blood may be good up to 10-12 years from the time of storage. While many researches shows that after 10 years, it cannot be explained for how long the potency in the stored cells will last. Hence, you might get an extremely low potency stem cells after 10 years of storing them.
UNCERTAINTY OF THE COLD CHAIN –
Once the umbilical cord blood is collected, the stem cells in it gradually begin to die. Exposing the cord blood to temperature extremes, either too hot or too cold, speeds up stem cell death. Thus before buying the cord blood banking for your baby, one need to ensure that the company collects the sample and ships to the desired destination for storage meets the standards of thermal integrity.
INEXPERIENCED STAFF AND POOR COLLECTION TECHNIQUE –
Clinical experience of the cord blood banking company is crucial. There are many companies in the market who have recruited the inexperienced and unqualified personnel.
They are seiously concentrating on the sales ground first, rather being aware about the fragility of the stored tissue. If the company is new, you cannot expect them to handle such a fragile piece of an expensive sample with absolute integrity. Thoroughly interview the company executive before jumping to buy one.
GETTING THE UNWANTED –
Some genetic diseases may not be apparent in the child in the early years. But, there is a chance that a cord blood transplant may transmit a rare serious genetic disease that was not recognized beforehand.
LIMITED USE AND LIMITED CULTURE –
The volume of the cells is limited and cannot be customizable, if the disease demands greater use of the stem cells.
Conclusions: Should you really buy Cord Blood Banking?
After weighing the pros and cons of the stem cell storage and the success rates of the stem cell therapy IN INDIA, I have made my personal choice.
I, being an Anesthesiologist doctor WOULD NOT personally go for such an expensive insurance for my baby IN INDIA. The reasons are simple!
In India, even the best healthcare Institutes are not well equipped with the stem cell success. Furthermore, with the commercialization of many Indian brands in this sector, and unskilled staff discourages me to go with the flow! Finally, the prices are sky-rocketing high, and I don’t even know if the stem cell bank is using all the fair methods to keep my baby’s cells alive!
Final Thoughts on Cord Blood Banking
However, I would not discourage my patients to opt for the umbilical cord blood banking who can can afford it without giving a second thought on its result. The diseases which the stem cells can treat are extremely rare in anyone’s life. Moreover, the trials haven’t generated very good results till now in India. But I would suggest you these general steps before you buy the stem cell collection and storing facility from any brand:
- Access the pros and cons of buying stem cells for your baby. Discuss with your family members.
- Check your pocket! Even after knowing the cons, can you really afford to buy one?
- Check the company’s profile and the date of establishment. Learn since when the company has been into this profession / business?
- Have a brief talk with the Area Manager of the company? Ask as many questions as you can! A lot of them have been framed here too!
- Never hesitate to ask, how they are going to maintain the cold chain for the stem cell storage?
- Do ask for the additional charges, if any. Also, make sure about the tenure of the stem cell storage from the company’s end. Learn about the terms and policies of the contract.
- Ask about the diseases and the failure rates of the stem cell therapies in India. They, at least should have an idea about it.
I hope the future brings us the best hope for curing all the rare and inherited disorders. I also hope for the grand success of the umbilical cord blood banking and stem cell therapy in the near future. If you’ve liked the article send in your valuable comments below. Thank you!
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