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What are stem cell banks and why are they growing in importance?

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October 4, 2016

What is Stem Cell Banking and What are Its Benefits?
Stem cells are used in the treatment of almost 80 debilitating diseases & have also been used in over 30,000 transplants of different kinds. In case your child contracts any disease, that has to be treated with radiation or chemotherapy, there are chances that it will impact his/her immune system negatively. If you have banked your child’s stem cells and cord tissue, these could be used to very effectively bolster & repopulate the blood & immune system of your child.

Stem cells can also become any type of cell in the body. In the womb, the embryonic stem cells turn into cells that make-up organs, blood, nerves and bone. Post birth, all these cells exist in an individual’s body as adult stem cells; they are found in all types of tissue and they play a very important role in helping the body heal.

Ease of Extraction

Stem cells are extracted from umbilical cord blood as well as cord tissue; the process is very easy and there is no pain or risk to the mother or her baby. Bone marrow collection that also serves a similar purpose is a highly invasive procedure and general anesthesia is required for it.

The Perfect Match

In many instances, matched stem cells, that are required for transplant, are very difficult to obtain as the matching requirements are very strict. However, your child’s cord stem cells are and always will be the perfect lifetime match for her/him. Apart from this, there is also a chance that stem cells will be a 25% match for a sibling and there is a 50% chance of them being a partial match. When genetically-related stem cells are used to treat a disease, it often results in very successful transplants and there are also much fewer complications for any blood-related family member.

High Engraftment Rate

Stem cells also have a very high rate of engraftment and they are much more tolerant of HLA mismatches compared to bone marrow transplants. This aspect results in a notably reduced rate of Graft-Versus-Host Disease, post a transplant. The current day medical space is advancing at a very rapid pace and we live in a world where regenerative medicine is being widely researched and studied. Stem cells are being used to treat diseases that are unrelated to the immune or blood system.

These cells are being used to rebuild cardiac tissue and repair damage due to spinal cord injuries or stroke and to reverse the effects of various debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s, as well as to build new organs. While all this research is in its nascent stages, its possibilities are promising. When you bank your baby’s stem cells today, you automatically increase his/her access to all these health technologies of the future. Today, a few private companies in India offer stem cell banking services. Even as awareness about the benefits of stem cells increases, so does the demand for these banking services.

The Process

  • Most stem cell banks provide online registration functionality
  • Once the registration process has been completed, you get an Umbilical Cord Collection Kit. This has to be retained very carefully till the time of delivery
  • The doctor has to be kept informed about the decision of preserving your child’s stem cells
  • The kit has to be carried to the hospital at the time of delivery
  • It is important that the stem cells be collected within 10 minutes post the delivery
  • All doctors are aware of the stem cell collection process
  • If you need the help of the stem cell bank for the collection, they have to be given a couple of hours of notice and they help with the process

Invaluable Investment

Even as awareness about stem cells and their benefits is increasing, a larger number of people are now opting to bank their child’s stem cells. These banks are now growing in importance because larger number of people now recognize that this procedure is an investment towards the future of the health of their families. Its return on investment cannot really be calculated in financial terms. This investment has the potential to save the life of a loved one. It’s no surprise then that a number of people in India are now asking about and opting for stem cell banking.

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