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Basics of Collecting Cord Blood

By Saurabh Jain, American Chronicle, July 5, 2007

Many new parents are apprehensive about donating their baby's cord blood stem cells because of inadequate knowledge about the collection, processing, and storage of umbilical cord blood. The process of collecting and storing cold blood cells must be explained in a comprehensive manner so that expecting parents may be fearless about the collection process and any unknown risks surrounding the process. No risk or pain for the child or mother is associated with cord blood collection methods during pre or post operative procedures. To retrieve the diverse life saving opportunities from it, a once disposable umbilical cord is now worthy of being stored with all the miraculous therapeutic benefits of cord blood cells.

The storage of cord blood involves two steps. These are the collection process and the actual processing of the umbilical cord blood.

The blood cell collection is the first step. According to the period of collection, the collection method can vary. There are two potential methods, both of which are equally safe.

The first method involves collecting blood when the doctor or the midwife is waiting for the placenta to be delivered or the period of 5 to 10 minutes before the delivery of the placenta. This is method that takes place before the placenta is delivers is referred to as In utero collection.

In a similar procedure, the second method involves draining the cord blood into a bag after placing the placenta in a sterile supporting structure. The umbilical cord is clamped and cut off and drained by syringe. This method is called Ex utero collection and only differs significantly from In utero in the time of collection.

Both of these methods are safe for cesarean and vaginal deliveries, so women in either case can consider donating cord blood stem cells. However, doctors or the cord blood bank may decide to abandon the cord blood collection protocol if complications arise during the final stages of the pregnancy. Per regulations, some of the mother's blood gets collected to detect ant infectious diseases if present; this is done at the same time the cord blood is harvested from the umbilical vein. To collect adequate cells for transplantation, approximately 40ml to 150ml of cord blood must be drained from the umbilical cord. As much blood as possible is harvested by specialists in all cases. Even if the quantity is limited, the blood is still preserved for possible scientific research or future stem cell expansion, both of which are performed with the individual's consent only. The parents choose a cord blood storage facility in advance of the birth or delivery, and after collection the blood is forwarded to the respective cord blood bank. The blood is tested for infectious diseases or typecasting of tissues once it reaches the banking facility.

Within 36 to 48 hours of collection, the samples are transferred from the cord blood bank to a lab. The mother's blood is tested for diseases like CMV, HIV, syphilis, Malaria, and hepatitis. The testing labs which are CLIA certified are also registered with the FDA. The cord blood, which can already be used autologously, is deemed eligible for transplant use on family members after processing and infectious disease status is determined to be clean. One detail that deserved mention is that to ensure that the mother is eligible for cord blood donation, she usually has to undergo a special test during cord blood registry prior to the donation. The parents can prepare themselves for treatment if necessary after they receive the results.

While some processing methods keep the red blood cells, other types of processing deplete the cord blood of red blood cells. A cryopreservant is added to the now processed cord blood to ensure the unit of cord blood will survive the cryogenic process; this is the next step towards preservation. A liquid nitrogen tank is used for cord blood storage which brings the temperature of the cord blood unit down to -90 degrees Celsius. The cord blood unit is stored so that part of the blood can be reserved for stem cell expansion while the other part can be used immediately if required, thus, the bag is divided into two compartments for this reason.

In the case of private banking, the rights for future transplantation are given to the child's parents or guardians. The child gains authority over his or her cord blood cells once they reach legal age. Public banks, as the name implies, utilize donated cord blood so the family gives up control over their cord blood upon donation. Cord blood banks assure donors that complete confidentiality will be kept at all times, which eases those concerned with privacy issues. Recipients of cord blood will never know the donor's identity, and if the recipient is a stranger, the privacy measures are even more strict.

You family could be saved from many dreaded diseases with umbilical cord blood. Many killer diseases can be treated using umbilical cord blood since it is composed of an abundance of stem cells. Even if cost is an issue, the blood can be donated to a public cord blood bank so that at the very least, others can benefit from its life-saving potential.


 

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