Prior to your child’s birth, there are a number of important decisions to make. One of which is choosing what to do with their cord blood.
Cord blood is the blood in a baby’s umbilical cord and placenta. It is rich in powerful stem cells which can only be collected at birth for potential future use. If it is not collected, it is discarded as medical waste.
There are essentially two options available to expectant parents:
Umbilical cord blood stem cell transfusions are currently being used in place of bone marrow transplants1 for many life threatening conditions such as blood cancers (e.g. leukaemia), immune system and metabolic disorders. In addition to their relative potency, cord blood stem cells are less likely to cause problems in transplant because of their youth and flexibility.
Your baby’s cord blood stem cells are a perfect match for your child and are more likely to be a match for siblings.
When you store with a family cord bank, the ownership of the cord blood and tissue remains with you and your child, and can only be released for use by your child or compatible family members.
In the event that a stem cell transplant is required, problems of rejection will be eliminated by using a child’s own (autologous) cells. Conditions treated with autologous cells include solid tumors requiring high dose chemotherapy such as neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma.
Conditions treated with sibling donors include haematological malignancies and are associated with better survival outcomes and fewer adverse reactions when compared with unrelated donors2.
Family cord banks, such as Cell Care, are private companies and there are fees charged for services. Over 60% of Australian parents electing to store cord blood and tissue do so with private cord blood banks3. Hear from parents who have stored with Cell Care.
There is a growing body of evidence from clinical trials for the use of cord blood in regenerative medicine. Cell types within cord blood and tissue are being shown to produce anti-inflammatory factors, potentially stimulating tissue repair. By storing with a family bank, you reserve the opportunity for samples to be released for approved clinical trials, subject to regulatory approval.
If you provide your baby’s cord blood for storage with a government-funded public bank, it is available for worldwide use for approved therapies by anyone who is a genetic match.
Public banks do not charge for their services; however, if the need arises, your child’s donated cord blood may not be available for their use, or their siblings.
Australian public banks currently only collect cord blood during specified hours from the participating hospitals listed below4, operated by the National Cord Blood Collection and Banking Network; AusCord.
New South Wales
- Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick
- Prince of Wales Private Hospital, Randwick
- Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown
- St George Private Hospital, Kogarah
- Royal Women’s Hospital/Frances Perry House, Parkville
- Box Hill Hospital, Box Hill
- Angliss Hospital, Ferntree Gully
- Mater Mothers’ Hospital, South Brisbane
- Logan Hospital, Meadowbrook
- Royal Darwin Hospital, Tiwi
- None at time of research
Continue your education
As cord blood collection and storage can only occur at birth, it is important for expectant parents to begin their cord blood education well prior to their due date.
Below are some links to assist this education.
1. Umbilical cord blood banking: an update. Merlin G. Butler and Jay E. Menitove. J Assist Reprod Genet (2011) 28:669-676 2. Australian Bone Marrow Transplant Registry Annual Data Summary 2013 3. Cell Care data on file 4. AusCord participant hospitals, retrieved 30th August, 2017, from http://www.abmdr.org.au/public-cord-blood-donation/