Cord blood banking is the process of collecting, transporting, and primarily storing umbilical cord blood so that it can be used at a later time.
This storage can be done at either:
Private storage facilities process and store cord blood at their own commercial facilities. It is generally being preserved for the baby whose birth provided the blood (for use a later time), or for other family members who presumably share similar genetics.
This is becoming increasingly common in the case of families who may have a genetic disposition to particular diseases for which stem cell transplants can offer treatment, such as leukemia or sickle cell anemia, for which cord blood may eliminate the need for bone marrow transplants and the search for a donor. Medical research has indicated that these stem cells may be useful in treating a wide variety of other diseases in the future, from cancer to spinal cord injuries.
Public facilities exist that will take cord blood donations for distribution to patients in need of stem cell therapies and/or for continued medical research.
Like bone marrow transplants, a donors cord blood can help others that 'match' the recipients tissue types closely enough, and cord blood donations are already contributing to a significant number of treatments to patients needing a transplant to replace their blood-forming cells.
Once the blood has been donated it cannot be retrieved by the donor at a later time, but for those not planning private storage - the costs are generally covered by the recipient bank, most caregivers are willing to donate the additional time required to collect it after a birth, and the donated blood will help others.
For more detailed information on the actual process of cord blood banking from birth to stem cell use, please click here.