Pathologist Questions Stem Cells

What is stem cell banking? Is it really worth it?

I am a 32 year old woman in my last trimester. We have been approached by several stem cell banks to preserve the cord of our baby. What exactly is stem cell banking and is it really worth it since it costs a huge amount of money?

3 Answers

Cord blood is rich with stem/precursor cells, that can mature/develop into a variety of mature blood cells. Cord blood can be preserved, maintaining its viability (stem cell banking) for many years. It can be used to revitalize the bone marrow of the individual if that individual develops a disease, usually a malignancy that consumes his or her bone marrow.
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that are not yet predisposed to produce a certain type of tissue. If your baby or relative has a disease that could be treated with stem cells, this may be a good idea for you. If your child may be predisposed to getting a disease that could be treated with stem cells, this may also be a good idea. You should discuss the odds of your baby needing stem cells with your physician, particularly due to the high cost of doing this. These labs may charge you a storage fee for these cells indefinitely. Get the scoop from these labs in regards to costs as well.

Good luck!

Renee Thomas, MD
Umbilical cord blood is a rich source of stem cells that are the building blocks for virtually all of the tissues and organs in a persons body. These can be collected at the time of delivery and stored (frozen) essentially forever. The stem cells can then be used to treat a variety of diseases now, and in the future, there is almost limitless possibilities of what science may be able to do with stem cells. Hopefully, you will have a healthy baby and never need them. However, stored stem cells are like an insurance policy for your child. If they ever needed a bone marrow transplant, your child would actually be their own donor with no need to look for a matching donor. They are the perfect match. The initial "processing" few from private companies generally ranges from $1000 - $3000. Then, there is a yearly "storage" cost ranging from $90 - $175.