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Cord blood banking is the process of collecting the blood left in a new born baby's umbilical cord and placenta. The cord blood so collected contains the life saving stem cells that are then stored for future medical use. For the uninitiated, stem cells are the undifferentiated cell in human body capable of self-regeneration and producing more cells through differentiation.
Stem cells are found all over the human body and are concentrated more in the bone marrow. However, doctors recommend preserving stem cells from the umbilical cord given the following reasons:
Banking your baby's stem cells is a decision that only you as a parent can take. In general the cord is discarded after the baby is born. But if you decide to preserve it, then you will have to get enrolled in a stem cell bank where it will be stored for your family's future medicinal use. Furthermore, you will even have to inform the hospital staff, taking care of the delivery, about preserving the cord.
As soon as the baby is born, whether vaginally or via caesarean, the medical staff clamps the cord and cuts it in the usual manner. The clamping of cord shouldn't be delayed for more than a minute or two as after that the blood present in the cord will clot and would be of no use.
A needle is then inserted by the doctor into the umbilical vein on the cord part which is still connected to the placenta. The blood then is collected in a bag. Generally, a minimum 40ml of the umbilical cord blood, 20cm of cord tissue, and 6ml of mother's blood is vital for a successful preservation. This whole process doesn't take more than 10 minutes. The collected blood is then shipped to your stem cell bank where it undergoes testing, processing and cryopreservation (preserving by controlled freezing).
As stated, stem cells preserved from the umbilical cord have the capability to treat several of the life threatening diseases. Some of which are: