Collecting Cord Blood
So you’ve made the wonderful decision to bank your child’s cord blood and you’ve decided which cord blood services to use. Great! But your due date is approaching and you’re just not sure how your baby’s cord blood is going to be collected. Well never fear; collecting cord blood stem cells is actually a very simple process; read on for all the simple details.
While making the decision on whether or not to bank your baby’s cord blood is an important one that requires much thought and consideration, it is necessary to make the banking arrangements by your 34th week of pregnancy, or 90 days before your due date if you are donating cord blood. If you have decided to make a cord blood donation, then you will need to make sure that the hospital you are giving birth in is serviced by a public cord blood bank. If it’s not, you may not be able to donate those cord blood stem cells after all. Additionally, public banks require parents to complete extensive health questionnaires as well as have certain medical tests done (i.e. HIV testing) before they will accept the blood.
Opting for private cord blood banks will mean that you have to pay a fee in exchange for the cord blood storage. However, using a private cord blood bank should make it possible to store those stem cells regardless of which hospital you give birth in. Additionally, your child’s stem cells will remain frozen until you or someone else in your family needs them.
Regardless of the type of bank you are sending your newborn’s cord blood cells to, collection cannot occur unless a mother has given her written consent to the procedure. So make sure you’ve signed all those papers if you would like that cord blood collected.
Once you have given birth, your newborn’s umbilical cord will be cut. As you and your child become acquainted, a nurse or doctor will take that cut umbilical cord to drain the blood from it. This will not affect you or baby in anyway or interrupt the care that you need and receive.
The cord blood service you have chosen will provide you with a collection kit prior to your due date. Make sure you bring this kit with you when you rush off to the hospital, as your health care provider will not be able to collect the cord blood without it.
There are two ways in which cord blood can be collected. The method used to collect your baby’s cord blood will depend upon which umbilical cord blood storage service you have chosen.
The first method involves using a syringe. With this collection method, a syringe is inserted into the umbilical cord and draws the blood in. The syringe contains an anticoagulant to prevent the blood from clotting in the syringe. This technique typically is able to collect more blood than the blood bag method, therefore making it a more reliable collection process. It can be done before or after the placenta is delivered.
The blood bag collection method is similar to the syringe method except that bags are used instead. With this technique, a needle is inserted into the umbilical vein and, using gravity for assistance, the blood is drained into a bag. When the blood is done being drained, the blood bag is sealed and labeled so that it is ready for pick up. Normally, blood bag collection is performed before the placenta is delivered.
Collecting cord blood should be done within the first 15 minutes after birth. The longer you wait to collect the blood, the less blood you will be able to collect, which means fewer stem cells. Whether your health care provider collects the blood using a syringe or a blood bag, the entire process shouldn’t take more than five minutes.
After the blood is collected, the shipping instructions will need to be completed by a delivery room nurse. When this is done, you will notify your chosen cord blood bank to have a medical courier come pick up the kit. Most private banks have 24-hour hotlines you can call to ensure your cord blood is picked up right away. Public banks may have more specific business hours requiring you to wait before you can call for a pick up.
Once your cord blood has been picked up, it will be taken to the appropriate facility for processing and storage. It is recommended that cord blood be processed within 48 hours of collection, so don’t delay in calling that courier.