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Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Storage: A Natural, Affordable Way To Help Protect Your Child’s Long-Term Health?

What if you could invest in your child’s long-term health, using a precious natural resource from your own body that would otherwise be thrown away?

Research Scientists

Umbilical cord stem cell storage is a leading-edge health initiative that increasing numbers of in-the-know parents are now turning to in order to help ensure their child’s – and family’s – health.

In the past, there has been much sensationalism regarding stem cell work. Mention stem cells, and dramatic ideas of cloning sheep or harvesting embryos might spring to mind. In fact, umbilical cord stem cell storage is nothing of the sort. Here at Private Pregnancy UK, as parents ourselves who want to do everything we can to protect our children, we felt it was important to do our own research to separate the facts from science fiction. So we spoke to Chief Scientific Officer at leading cord blood stem cell bank Cells4Life, Dr Jeff Drew.

Laboratory Technician - Cells4LifeWhat Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are primitive cells that can develop into numerous other cell types in the body – for example those found in the liver, skin or nerves. This is why they are able to act as a kind of internal repair system, replenishing other cells and rejuvenating tissue. Stem cells from umbilical cord blood are among the youngest and most potent available, meaning they have the potential, given the right conditions, to become almost every cell type in the human body.

For this reason, stem cells are a remarkable treatment resource that continues to expand as more and more research is conducted into stem cell treatment. For example in 1997, there was a 1 in 2,700 chance a person would need stem cells in their lifetime; by 2008 it was 1 in 3 1, and there have now been more than 1 million stem cell transplants worldwide.

What Can Stem Cells Be Used To Treat?
There are numerous conditions that stem cells are currently being used to treat – from cerebral palsy to leukaemia, to sickle cell anaemia, multiple sclerosis, and others. Stem cell treatments for countless other conditions are being successfully researched as we speak – for example for diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, brain injury, liver failure and many more.

A key focus of stem cell treatment is regeneration. For example, stem cells can help to rebuild the immune system after treatments that severely compromise it, like chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer, and they can also help to rebuild tissue after injury.

Recently a study of sufferers of multiple sclerosis treated with stem cells showed remarkable results, with some patients actually regaining the ability to walk 2. Encouraged by this, MS sufferers like 26-year-old mum Georgia Woods have stored their new babies’ cord blood in the event that it is needed for regenerative treatment later.

Ground-breaking stem cell treatments for cerebral palsy are being developed, with many patients’ motor functions significantly improved in trials 3. This incredible potential to treat or even reverse terminal conditions or birth defects is particularly important at a time when couples are having babies later and later. As we know, the likelihood of birth defects increases in over-35 mothers, and so having the ability to store umbilical cord stem cells presents a unique opportunity to insure against these problems.

Cord Blood Stem Cell Storage: From The Child, For The Child
Although stem cells can theoretically be sourced from either donor bone marrow or peripheral blood, finding a suitable match can be extremely difficult or even impossible. In most cases, the body rejects foreign stem cells. An attempt to find a suitable match is often very costly and time-consuming since it is likely to involve a worldwide search. And even if successful, such a match may involve the stem cell recipient having to live on anti-rejection drugs.

In fact, cord blood stem cell storage is the only guarantee of a perfect match for your child, since there is no better match than their own stem cells. With cord blood collection, you are saving something your child already has that would otherwise go to waste. Sourcing stem cells from your baby’s own umbilical cord means that, as and when your child needs stem cells in the future, they have a guaranteed perfect match waiting for them. Furthermore, stem cells are at their most potent on the day we are born, so there is no better time to access them.

Patient-Consultancy

A Potential Lifeline For Other Family Members
Cord blood stem cells can often be used to treat illness or injury in other family members too. In fact, there is a 1 in 4 chance they will be a perfect match for a sibling and 100% chance that they will be at least a 50% match for a parent.

This is something Amanda Turner, mum of 12-year-old cancer patient Casey had in mind when she made the decision to store the cord blood of the baby she is currently carrying, with Cells4Life. She said:

Finding out that your child is very ill, like Casey, is the worst thing in the world. I never thought something like this would happen to us, and now for the future I want to make sure I cover all the possibilities and do everything I can to help any of my children for the future. You never know what is waiting around the corner.

Amanda’s unborn baby now has the chance to be Casey’s life-saver. Cord stem cell storage is a remarkable way to help ensure not only your baby’s health, but potentially your whole family’s too.

How It Works And Things To Bear In Mind
A word of caution however. Each cord blood unit is single use, so using your baby’s cord blood for more than one treatment is only possible if it is stored in multiple portions. Cells4Life is the only storage bank in the UK that offers this service.

Umbilical cord blood and tissue can be collected whether you have a vaginal birth or a caesarean birth. When the procurement happens, you and your baby will already have been physically separated from the placenta and umbilical cord. This makes the process completely free of discomfort to you or baby, as well as quick and safe.

There are more than 200 private and NHS hospitals 4 in the UK that allow cord blood collection. If you are going private, then the chances are that your obstetrician will be trained in the procurement process. With Cells4Life, parents who are giving birth in an NHS hospital can pay a £300 procurement fee for a dedicated phlebotomist to come to the hospital to collect the cord blood and tissue correctly.

How Much Does Cord Blood Stem Cell Storage Cost?
When we set out to research this, we were surprised to discover that cord blood stem cell storage is not for a privileged few. For example, Cells4Life charges £1,575 for 25 years of special cryogenic storage, and there is also a spreadable cost option.

Dr Drew told us: ‘A decent cord stem cell bank shouldn’t charge you a release fee. When you need the cells, you get them. If you needed them sent abroad then obviously there could be a transit fee, but other than that, you don’t pay.

Here at Private Pregnancy UK, our research has led us to think of the process as an investment for our children. And like any good investment, it is one whose value continues to multiply with time. The more stem cell research continues, the more and more health benefits your bundle of joy’s umbilical cord could offer.

REFERENCES

 [1] http://cells4life.com/cord-blood-stem-cells-reverse-girls-cerebral-palsy-case-study/
 [2] http://cells4life.com/2015/03/wheelchair-bound-ms-patients-given-miraculous-stem-cell-treatment/
 [3] http://www.viacord.com/treatments-and-research/regenerative-medicine/cerebral-palsy/
 [4] http://cells4life.com/stem-cell-collection-whats-involved/does-my-hospital-allow-cord-blood-collection/

We would like to thank the team at Cells4Life for providing their specialist knowledge for this article.

Cells4Life Group LLP
Units 2-3 Oak House
Woodlands Office Park
Albert Drive
Burgess Hill, RH15 9TN
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 1444 873950
Fax: +44 (0) 1444 220050
Email: enquiry@cells4life.com
Web: www.cells4life.com

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