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Storing a baby’s umbilical cord blood is often referred to as the perfect insurance policy. The reason is simple yet astounding: This blood is rich in lifesaving stem cells that can help protect a child’s future health.

Currently, nearly 70 diseases have been treated with cord blood stem cells, including leukemia, other cancers, and blood disorders. What’s more, some experts anticipate the potential for stem cells to treat diseases like juvenile diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Not only can the child benefit, but siblings and other family members who are good matches can also use these cells because they are genetically unique to each child and family.

Given that the cells are collected in the brief minutes following a baby’s birth, parents have only one chance with each child to bank the cord blood cells. But saving your baby’s cord blood has never been easier, and now this service is provided locally. BioBancUSA, the world’s leading provider of white blood cell banking services, has recently expanded to include state-of-the-art cord blood banking.

CordBancUSA, based in Monterey, is a private cord blood bank dedicated to preserving the vital health resources to ensure that cord blood cells will be available if and when they are needed.

According to Robert (Bo) Hayner, president and CEO of CordBancUSA and BioBanc-USA, “Cord blood banking was a natural addition to our core business, as we already had established our facility with the most advanced technology available to process and store white blood cells. CordBancUSA is the only private cord blood company in the United States combining leading edge methods for collection and cryo-preservation of cord blood.”

The method for blood collection is simple, non-invasive, and poses no risk to mother or baby. Prior to delivery, CordBancUSA sends a kit to clients with complete instructions for the parents and medical caregiver. The medical professional who is with the mother at the time of birth collects the blood from the umbilical cord after it has been clamped and cut (cord blood can be collected following either a traditional delivery or C-section).

Once the cells are collected, the container is shipped to CordBancUSA’s laboratory. The cord blood is then reduced to isolate the white blood cells, including stem cells, and to remove the plasma and red blood cells. After the cells have been processed, they are packaged and frozen in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196°C.

When the processes are complete, CordBancUSA sends clients a Certificate of Storage to confirm that the cells were safely processed and stored.

So what is the likelihood of ever using a baby’s cord blood? “The use of cord blood has had dramatic exponential growth in treatment use,” Hayner reports. “As with any insurance policy, we would hope the cells are never needed. With the dramatic development of uses, the likelihood of autologous (self) use by an individual over the course of a lifetime is approximately 1 in 480. The likelihood of use by someone else (allogeneic) is 1 in 220.”

While most cord blood companies charge $1,900 and do not cover the shipping costs, CordBancUSA’s cost of $995 includes shipping and the first year of storage. Because cord blood is rich in lifesaving stem cells that can help protect a child’s health, it’s clear that cord blood banking is an investment that has potential for a priceless return.