Expecting a newborn is an exciting time for parents. It is a time filled with joy, with preparing the home for your new arrival, installing safeguards throughout the home, and protecting your child’s well being with cabinet locks and outlet covers. However, it is also a time of uncertainty. You want your baby to have the best start in life and wonder if you are you doing all that you can to best prepare for the potential health needs of your child and other family members. In short, many expecting parents know that they have a lot to protect and seek peace of mind and security from cord blood banks. Are all banks really the same? Does the type of cord blood banking service affect the potential use and benefit of the banked product for your child or family?
If you’re an expecting parent you may have already been approached by a bank promising you the highest stem cell recovery, often referred to as TNC or Total Nucleated Cell Recovery. While many of these companies may mention that the goal of cord blood banking is saving as many stem cells as possible for your family, they may fail to mention specifically which stem cells can best benefit your child should a potentially life-saving stem cell transplant be needed. In a 2006 published study of 826 cord blood units, several units had more than 40% nucleated red blood cells, which in cord blood have no benefit and can lead to complications when the unit is used to treat a potentially life-threatening disease or condition. Expecting parents should focus on choosing a bank that can offer them the opportunity to collect as many of a certain type of stem cells called CD34+ stem cells, which studies have shown are the blood forming cells that matter most for transplant success and patient survival in the treatment of potentially life-threatening diseases and conditions. In fact, more and more health care professionals are recommending to potential banking patients that if they are planning to bank their babies’ stem cells they should strive to bank as many CD34+ stem cells as possible.
Expecting parents have a greater chance of collecting the most CD34+ stem cells possible by banking from two sources: the placenta and the cord blood. This procedure, which is known as Placenta-Cord banking, can potentially result in an increased total number of CD34+ stem cells banked. The advantage of collecting stem cells from the placenta in addition to traditional banking is that the blood from the placenta is up to 15 times richer in CD34+ stem cells.
Recently, the older brother of a baby whose placenta-derived stem cells and cord blood stem cells were banked with LifebankUSA in 2007 underwent a transplant using both placenta-derived and cord blood units to treat a potentially fatal type of leukemia. “The patient is doing extremely well and, in fact, was discharged from the hospital one-to-two weeks earlier compared to traditional cord blood transplants,” said Lolie C. Yu, M.D., who led this groundbreaking Placenta-Cord transplant. LifebankUSA is currently the only bank that collects, processes, and stores stem cells from two of the richest sources of blood forming CD34+ stem cells: the placenta and the cord blood.