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Cord blood - To save or not to save?

Once the baby is born and the umbilical cord is cut, there’s still blood in the vessels of the placenta and the part of the umbilical cord that is still attached to it. This blood is called umbilical cord blood, or cord blood for short.

Cord blood is rich in hematopoietic stem cells, similar to bone marrow. These cells have the potential to develop into different types of blood cells. Over one’s lifespan, they divide and replenish the various blood cells according to what the body needs.

You can read at length online about why it’s worthwhile to save cord blood, what the potential future uses may be and how to do it, but here I’d like to get to the bottom line - how is it done?

If you want to keep and store the baby’s cord blood, you’ll have to inform the staff (in the birth plan as well), who will do it immediately after the birth. Just note that if there are complications during the birth or in an emergency, the staff may not remember or be able to do it, so take this into consideration.

There is the option of donating the cord blood to a public bank that doesn’t charge money for storing the blood, and which enables you to get treatment from the same bank if you need it, using another donor’s cord blood.

Another more popular option is to purchase a cord blood storage plan for your child. In this case, in addition to the costs of freezing the blood, you will also pay a fee for making a withdrawal when the time comes. This blood will be for your exclusive use alone.

At this stage, from a medical / scientific aspect, there’s no guarantee that if you need it (in the case of illness, heaven forbid), the cord blood will truly be able to help treat the baby, so the feasibility hasn’t yet been proven.

If you’ve chosen to save the cord blood, and after you’ve chosen the company you want to save it with, you’ll make an advance payment of around two thousand dollars (in the United States) for a kit that will be sent to you, which you will bring to the doctor delivering the baby. The cord blood will be collected in the kit, and it will usually include the cost of processing the blood and saving it for the first year. In the case of twins, the cost will be higher of course. You will also be sent forms to sign, as well as for the surrogate delivering the baby (don’t worry, it’s only for initial consent purposes, in the future the surrogate won’t be involved in any of the cord blood transactions).

Example for banks: the Cord Blood Registry, and there is ViaCord in Cincinnati.

It costs approximately $125 per year. Note that such companies offer 20+ year plans, which may reduce annual costs somewhat.

Take into account that transporting and saving cord blood in Israel at a local bank entails high transport costs.

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