“Working together to explore new uses for cord blood and cord tissue” ViaCord & Research Collaborations.
“This post is sponsored by ViaCord and BlogHer”
Recently, I attended a presentation on Cord blood stem cells research arranged by ViaCord. It was probably one of the most enlightening sessions I’ve attended to date. Even though I had a cursory knowledge of cord blood research, when I was pregnant with my twins, it was not a topic on my radar. So my answer would be “No!”, I was not familiar with both names. Did your ObGyn initiate a conversation about it when you were pregnant? Like many other moms, when I was pregnant, back in the early 1990s, I wasn’t aware of it and don’t recall it coming up in doctor visits with my ObGyn.
Granted, Cord Blood Banking was in its formative years and not every doctor knew enough to recommend it. I wish I knew then as I would have happily participated in it. The good thing about learning now is that I can inform other members of my large family, and even my own kids, so babies born within the family would benefit from this scientific breakthrough. By now, I bet you’d love to know more. Below are basic questions/answers to help you learn about it and make an informed decision when the time comes to have your baby.
What is Cord Blood?
As stated in ViaCord’s informational brochure, “Cord blood is the blood that remains in a newborn’s umbilical cord after birth, and the stem cells it contains have been used to help replace damaged blood cells with healthy ones, with the potential to strengthen the immune system.” So before your baby is born, you can discuss your options with your ObGyn, and give permission to collect this precious substance for your baby.
Who is ViaCord and what role do they play in disseminating information on Cord blood banking?
ViaCord is a well established and highly regarded private family cord blood bank that has, for over 20 years, provided families with high quality stem cell and tissue preservation service. As part of the PerkinElmer global company, which focuses on improving human and environmental health, ViaCord provides exceptional service and care to their patients, families, and their physicians. They collaborate with hospitals around the country, are dedicated to advancing studies on cord blood stem cells, and have the highest published treatment success rates out of any cord blood banking company. When you sign up with them you know you are in good hands.
“If one person reads our story and it gives them hope — if we inspire one person to hang on, then we’ve done something special.” The Byrd Family
Why do families choose to bank?
With over 30,000 cord blood cell transplants/treatments worldwide to date4, cord blood stem cells have been used in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases2 and remain the fastest growing source of stem cells in pediatric transplants; its use for the treatment of a growing range of diseases has doubled since 2007 and continues to grow. The research potential is also growing. Research shows that “both cord blood and cord tissue are great sources of stem cells, which have the ability to heal damaged cells, tissues, organs, blood and the immune system.”
Why should you choose to preserve your baby’s cord blood?
It makes sense that if you have your newborn baby’s cord blood banked, and you/your baby has a marker for any of the 80 diseases treated by it, down the road if your child develops any symptoms, that banked cord blood would be a life saver. To date, the potential for successful treatment for pediatric diseases from using the cord blood stem cells has grown. So your decision to preserve your child’s cord blood can one day save his/her life.
How Cord Blood Stem Cells Are Collected | ViaCord
How are Cord Blood Stem Cells collected?
Above is a video with Kate Falcon walking you through the steps on how it is collected. Some key points: the cord blood and cord tissue stem cells are collected at the time of your baby’s birth by your ObGyn or attending nurse and carefully packed, shipped and stored at a ViaCord facility. Your family has full access to the stem cells at anytime they need it for treatment, and the stored cells don’t expire. ViaCord has a special process they use that ensures your baby’s cord blood is not contaminated or misplaced.
What is the ViaCord Process?
At ViaCord, they take great pride in collecting, storing and caring for your baby’s stem cell. They provide a kit with an FDA approved bag to collect cord blood stem cells, then they pack it carefully and transport it, within 48 hours, to their laboratory in Hebron, KY. They use testing methods that are proven to be accurate and reliable to collect the stem cells; extracting stem cells from cord tissue before freezing. Their method saves 8 times the stem cells. Using a sophisticated freezer system, they have found their collections to be healthy even 25 years later. Whenever you are ready to use the stem cells, ViaCord is ready to move quickly to deliver it where needed.
“Our experience in umbilical cord blood transplantation has shown definitively that the single most important factor in ensuring a successful curative outcome is the number of cells that are infused at transplantation.” Mark Walters, MD
What are some common misconceptions about Cord Blood Banking?
Cord blood banking only makes sense for families with a history of cancer. Not true. It is used in the treatment of nearly 80 other diseases.
Cord blood can’t be used for the child it was collected from – only a sibling. False. A child’s cord blood can be used.
I banked cord blood for one child, so I don’t need to bank for my other children. False. Since some health conditions can be child specific, it is wise to collect for all babies.
Stored cord blood has a limited shelf life. False. They are cryogenically stored and scientific studies show cord blood cells frozen nearly 25 years ago are still viable today.
Banking cord blood takes away beneficial blood away from the baby at delivery. Not entirely. It’s always best to talk to your doctor to find the option that’s best for you and your baby.
Cord blood isn’t used in medical treatments today. False. There have been more than 30,000 cord blood stem cell transplants performed in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases4. Additionally, cord blood transplants are used in 22% of all stem cell transplants and make up nearly 50% of pediatric transplants3.
Where is the research effort heading?
According to ViaCord, exciting things are happening in cord blood and cord tissue research. Right now researchers are conducting clinical trials looking at cord blood stem cells as potential treatments for diseases including autism, cerebral palsy and Type 1 diabetes. Additionally, while many researchers have been focused on cord blood, cord tissue has made meaningful advancements. These cells are being studied for their ability to potentially regenerate bone, cartilage, tendons and neurons.
What do you need to know/do if interested in the process?
What information do you wish to have while pregnant that would make your choices easier?
First off, have a conversation with your partner and ObGyn to determine if it is best for you/your baby. If you’d like more information on Cord Blood Banking, you can request a Free Information Kit from ViaCord. One thing I know for sure is that deciding to bank cord blood and cord tissue can be a lifesaver for your child. It can give parents peace of mind and the assurance that potential treatment options are available if they ever need them. For additional information from ViaCord, you may explore their Website, FAQs, and blog
PS. In case you are wondering about Pricing. I thought you’d like to know that ViaCord has reduced their fees by 40% and do have a payment arrangement. If you have any questions, do follow up with: their finance department at 800-991-2483. If you’re outside the United States, please call 617-914-3400.
If you have any questions, please leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you. Thank You!
PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photographs: Images via ViaCord and My Personal Collection