Last Updated on December 25, 2022 by Parentology
You might have heard of cord blood banking in Singapore as a new parent. If you’re wondering what the purpose of cord blood banking and whether it is worth it is, we’re here to enlighten you with this quick guide.
What is cord blood banking?
Cord blood banking is a procedure that allows you to store your baby’s umbilical cord blood for potential future use. Blood stem cells(BSC) are collected from the umbilical cord, rich in mesenchymal stem cells that can be used in treatments for many diseases.
BSC from cord blood is harvested from the umbilical cord after your baby is delivered and the cord is clamped. After sterilisation, a small needle is inserted to draw the cord blood with BSC out. This process does not hurt the mother or the baby.
Afterwards, the cord blood is processed in the laboratory, where the BSC cells are extracted. A cryopreservative is added, and the BSC cells are stored in liquid nitrogen tanks at approximately –180 degrees Celsius.
What is the purpose of banking cord blood?
The stem cells found in cord blood can be used to treat over 80 different diseases, including cancers, autoimmune disorders and genetic diseases. Since these stem cells are from the baby’s body, there is no risk of rejection or graft-versus-host disease.
Cord blood banking can help someone, including someone in your immediate family, in need of stem cells. BSC has been used for stem cell transplants, also known as bone marrow transplants, since the 1960s. In the past, BSC was harvested from bone marrow. However, these BSCs are usually obtained from a matched sibling. Some patients from single-child families do not have a sibling donor, or perhaps they do not have siblings who match for BSCs. Other conditions, such as late pregnancies, and mixed marriages, can also give rise to the use of banked cord blood when patients cannot find a bone marrow match. Therefore, if you bank cord blood, the BSC within can be extracted and stored to save the patient or even a close family member.
How long does banked cord blood last?
Scientists have shown that cord blood storage can stretch over 23 years. As long as it is appropriately stored, studies have also proven that blood banks can store banked cord blood indefinitely until the patient needs it.
What are the risks of cord blood?
There are no health risks when cord blood is collected from the baby or the mother. Cord blood banks freeze and store cord blood until it is needed.
If you donate to Singapore Cord Blood Bank, the only public cord blood bank here, it’s akin to a donation. You pay nothing to store it; if you need a transplant in the future, you can withdraw it for free. A non-donor will need to pay up to $27,000.
Therefore, there are virtually no risks of collecting cord blood.
Cord blood banking: what are the pros and cons?
You might still be wondering whether cord blood banking is worth it. Here is a table of pros and cons of blood cord banking that you can consider as listed by MedicalNewsToday:
|● Cord blood does not have to match that of the person receiving the transplant as closely as with a bone marrow transplant. More people can receive stem cells from cord blood than from bone marrow.
● There is a smaller chance of a patient’s body rejecting the stem cells from cord blood than from bone marrow.
● Cord blood stem cells can be used for cancer treatment as they support the immune system. Stem cells from bone marrow cannot be used in this way.
● Collecting cord blood is less risky than collecting bone marrow.
● There is no risk to the newborn or the person giving birth.
● Cord blood banks can freeze and store cord blood until it is needed
● Cord blood does not contain many stem cells. Adults needing a transplant will require cord blood stem cells from multiple donors.
● It can be costly to store cord blood in a private bank
● You need to decide, give consent and plan for cord blood donation before labour starts.
● If you privately bank blood cord in hopes that a family member may need it in the future, it might not be as effective as having a transplant of stem cells from a stranger.
● If you want to make a public donation, you will have to donate at public hospitals which collect donations. These hospitals include KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), National University Hospital (NUH), and Singapore General Hospital (SGH). Several private hospitals also collect cord blood. Check this website for more details.
● Not everyone fits the criteria to donate cord blood. For instance, SCBB will not accept cord blood from twin pregnancies. Donors must also be 18 years old or older to consent and be healthy.
Cord blood banking Singapore price
Donating to Singapore Cord Blood Bank(SCBB) is free. You don’t have to pay for storage; you can withdraw for free if needed. This also means that your cord blood could be used for a stranger. The stranger has to pay up to $27,000 to withdraw.
You can also choose to save the cord blood for your own family. According to Yahoo!, SCBB charges $2,200 for processing and storage for the first five years. It is then $1,000 every five years after. The approximate cost of storing it for 21 years is $5,200.Take note, though, that you must deliver in a public hospital to store cord blood at SCBB for private use.
There are other private cord blood banks in Singapore, such as Cordlife, StemCord and Cryoviva. We’ve listed the prices according to this article, but of course, prices can differ, so it’s best to check all options before you consent to BSC collection.
Cordlife allows you to store your baby’s umbilical cord lining together with the cord blood. Some people might want to take that option since the umbilical cord lining is rich with stem cells that can repair injured tissues and organs. The approximate cost is $6,600 to $6,700, but the charges are free after 21 years of storage.
StemCord stores your baby’s cord blood in 2 cryo bags in different facilities, which provides more insurance. If something happens to one cryo bag, you still have another possible chance at treatment with the other bag. It is slightly more affordable, going below $6000 to store cord blood. There are also options to store the MSCs together with the cord blood, though that is slightly more expensive.
Newest kid on the block, Cryoviva, has the most affordable storage option out of the three. It charges slightly below $5000 for the entire 21 years of storage. You can also pay monthly or annually.
Is it worth it to bank cord blood?
Finally, to answer whether it’s worth it, you need to consider that cord blood banking is not a form of insurance. Think of it as a way to preserve your child or family member’s future health. If a family member needs a stem cell transplant, the stored cord blood may be useful to help treat them with their own genetically matched cells.
The collection process is relatively simple, taking just minutes from start to finish. Once collected, the cord blood is stored in liquid nitrogen tanks at shallow temperatures (-196°C). This method preserves it until a patient needs it later on down the road.
On the other hand, insurance can ensure that the person gets treatment without worrying about medical costs. You will still need to purchase insurance policies if you want to ensure that you, or your dependents, obtain a high level of care when something unexpected happens.
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