Constant growing attempts have been made spread awareness among the people for the cause of umbilical cord blood banking. Stem cells derived from umbilical cord have proved to be a boon to mankind. Earlier stem cells were only used to provide some low cost effective treatment to diabetes, stroke and some kind of blindness. But no doubt about it that today we are on the edge of having a major breakthrough with these cells which will get stem cells the credit they deserve.
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Although it is true that the spread of awareness among people has paid off and the preservation of umbilical cord blood is gaining momentum. Now cord blood bank is a place where cord blood can be kept for the future use. The cord blood banking involves three simple steps. These steps are collection, processing and storage. Collection is a process in which the umbilical blood is collected and can be done within 5 minutes after the birth of the child. Umbilical cord is clamped and cut and is attached to a special bar coded bag. This bag is kept at a lower level than the cord so the blood drains out in the bag. After collection it’s the turn for processing. Processing normally involves checking of blood for various possible viral infections and then separating stem cells from the red blood cells. After processing the umbilical blood is stored in liquid nitrogen tank at a temperature of -196 Celsius. This keeps the blood available for use even after a very long time.
The banks which handle all these operations can be generally classified into two categories and they are public and private. While the public cord blood bank is set to be for public use, private banks are set up exclusively for parents who want to keep the umbilical cord blood of their baby to themselves. At present, for every 3 public cord blood banks there is 1 private cord blood bank. The public banks can be used free of cost while the private banks charge the fees of $800-$2000. Most parents do not worry about the amount as it can be considered as the cover for medical insurance against so many fatal diseases. The only good thing about the private banks are that with the donation to private banks comes the guarantee of availability, while in public banks the usage of cord blood is subjected to availability. It is due to private banks only that this noble cause of donation is turning into a kind of business that requires investment. That is why medical community strongly supports public banks and not the private banks. The use of public banks widens the number of beneficiaries from medical advances.
The government is also spending heavily on the research and storage of stem cells. Recently the Indian government granted Rs 5 crores to a Mumbai based institution to upgrade its stem cell research facility. Also a large number of banks are being set up nationwide to facilitate the process and to spread awareness among the masses.