Cord blood is blood collected by your midwife or physician from your baby’s umbilical cord shortly after the birth. The stem cells contained in cord blood are used for transplantation in individuals threatened by cancer, lethal congenital anemias and other disorders that can be treated with bone marrow transplantation.
Collection of cord blood is not routine – if parents choose this option they must arrange for it privately, well before the birth. The agency they choose (see links below) will provide a collection kit to the parents, who must inform their midwife or physician some time before the birth that they would like cord blood collected.
CBC Marketplace investigated the cord blood banking industry in March 2010, and cautioned that the possible benefits are ‘oversold’ by companies that offer the service.
There are several organizations that receive, store and distribute cord blood:
Alberta Cord Blood Bank – a Canadian, non-profit organization located in Edmonton. They are dedicated to the collection and preservation of umbilical cord blood stem cells for public use.
This organization carefully screens all prospective donors, so in order to donate you must register with them before the end of your 34th week of pregnancy. Registration forms are online, on their website.
LifeBank, Insception and Health Cord – are private (profit-based) companies that store your baby’s cord blood specifically for your family. They charge an initial collection fee of approximately $1,000.00 followed by annual fees of approx. $125.00 to store the blood until your child is 18 years old. They also accept lump-sum payment, normally just over $3,000.00.