Banking on Umbilical Cord Blood

As a parent, the last thing you want to think about is any type of harm befalling your child. And, in the delivery room, all you want to think about is the imminent arrival of your new baby. But more and more parents are banking their newborns’ umbilical-cord blood, which they see as sort of a biological insurance policy in case a child does develop a serious illness.

According to Michael A. Werner, MD, clinical director of Maze Cord Blood in Purchase, cord blood—the baby’s blood located in the umbilical cord and in the placenta—“is rich in stem cells, which go on and recreate the bloodline. The advantage of banking the cord blood is that, if a child develops a blood disease or needs a bone-marrow transplant, the stored blood is a guaranteed exact match.” In fact, says Werner, sometimes a baby’s cord blood can be a match for a sibling, though he recommends storing the cord blood of each child.

Maze Cord Blood, one of several cord-blood labs and facilities in the area, can handle all the logistics. “After the baby is born,” Werner explains, “the blood from the placenta and one of the blood vessels is drained, bagged, and transported to our processing lab, where it’s processed and frozen.” 

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Maze, which opened 11 years ago, banks the cord blood of approximately 1,000 newborns per year, and has about 10,000 units in storage. It charges $2,490—“less than most of the bigger facilities in the area, which are often double, plus an annual fee of $100 or more,” Werner says—which includes the collection kit, doctors’ fee, mandatory blood testing of the mother, shipping, processing, and storage for 20 years. 

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