Umbilical cords are rich in stem cells and can help treat diseases and brain traumas in future years. Cord blood stem cells are involved in treating more than 80 different diseases, and thus some parents opt for cord blood banking or stem cells collection. Though the process can be costly if choosing private, many parents store stem cells to help protect their family’s future. In this guide, we explain what cord blood banking is, its advantages, how the procedure works, and finally, where you can store your stem cells, both private and public.
Cord blood banking is a procedure where stem cells are collected from the umbilical cord and placenta right after birth. These are potentially life-saving stem cells that can be used to treat cancer, blood diseases, or immune system disorders. The fluid is easy to collect and has 10 times more stem cells than those collected from bone marrow. Another advantage of the procedure is that stem cells from cord blood rarely carry any infectious diseases and are half as likely to be rejected as adult stem cells. Cord blood banking started in 1988, and since then, there have been over 40,000 successful cord blood transplant cases across the globe.
The powerful stem cells in the umbilical cord help us grow in the womb, then could potentially support us as we age. Because the stem cells from cord blood banking can combat numerous diseases, such as:
When treating these conditions, chemotherapy or radiation is used, killing both the harmful cells and the healthy cells. Transplanting cord blood stem cells into patients receiving these treatments can help produce new blood, improving their health. Cord blood collection is also an easy and non-invasive procedure and can be given to more patients and be stored longer than bone marrow stem cells.
However, it must be said that it is improbable your child will have to use the saved cord blood. Studies suggest that the chance that a child will use their cord blood over their lifetime is between 1 in 400 and 1 in 200,000. Also, the stored blood cells cannot always be used because if a genetic mutation caused the child's disease, it would also be in the stem cells collected at birth.
Cord blood banking or stem cells collection should be planned before the delivery, as the procedure takes place straight after the baby is born.
After your child's birth, the doctor clamps the umbilical cord in two places, around 25 centimeters apart, and cuts the cord, separating mother from child. This procedure only takes a few minutes and is entirely painless for both the mother and baby.
Once the umbilical cord is separated, they inject a needle and collect a minimum of 40 milliliters of blood from the cord. The collected blood is then sealed and sent to a cord blood bank for testing and storing.
To store your stem cells in Hong Kong, you can store them at a private cord blood clinic or a public hospital. If you choose a public hospital, you cannot store your cord blood privately or the other way around.
If you choose the public hospital, be aware that the donation is available for anyone who needs it. Thus you cannot store it for personal use at a public hospital. However, it is free to donate. It is similar to donating blood to a public hospital. Cord blood banking is done through the following public hospitals:
Private cord blood banks will store the donated blood for the donor and family members only. This can get expensive and annual prices range from HK$900 to HK$3,000. There are a few private options in Hong Kong, and they are listed below!
An experienced cord blood bank, CRYOLIFE is a leader in the local and Asian cord blood storage industry. It has over 25 storage tanks, and more than 25,000 families have had their stem cells stored here. As an industry leader and innovator, CRYOLIFE regularly teams up with some of the world’s most prestigious and recognized institutions to research new ways of applying cord blood treatment and stem cell therapy.
CRYOLIFE, 511 – 518, 5/F, Delta House, 3 On Yiu Street, Siu Lek Yuen, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong, +852 2110 2121, www.cryolife.com.hk
Pro Stem Cell is a Hong Kong private stem cell company that was founded by Australian scientists. They are made up of a group of international scientists, researchers, doctors, experts and technical consultants who have an in-depth and extensive knowledge and experience of stem cell technology. Paulson stem cells are built on an important concept – private stem cell storage must be linked to strategic research and preclinical treatment research to develop more patient care which distinguishes them from other stem cell stock centers.
Smart Cells is the first private UK stem cell storage company to have released stored stem cells units for use in the treatment of children with life-threatening illnesses. All processing procedures are undertaken with the assistance of specially trained staff, in a sterile, controlled environment. The laboratory uses state-of-the-art equipment designed to process cord blood as quickly as possible.
Cordlife has been around for nearly two decades and is one of the leading private cord blood banking services across Asia. They mainly operate in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The company strives to give its clients excellent service through an experienced team and reliable healthcare solutions and commitment to quality.
Cord Life, G15, Biotech Center 2, No.11 Science Park West Avenue, Hong Kong Science Park Sha Tin, Hong Kong, +852 3980 2888, www.cordlife.com.hk/en
HealthBaby is the first and only cord blood laboratory in Hong Kong that has obtained the CAP and HOKLAS accreditations, which prove that their techniques, quality, and storage service meet the stringent standards of authoritative organizations. HealthBaby works beyond the cord blood and umbilical cord stem cells storage services, and are also involved in biotechnology research projects exploring the medical application of stem cells.
HealthBaby Biotech (Hong Kong) Co., Ltd, Unit 702-706, 7/F (Office) & Unit G02-05, G/F (Laboratory), Lakeside 2 West Wing, No. 10 Science Park West Avenue, Hong Kong Science Park, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong, +852 3188 8899, www.healthbaby.hk
Athena Life is the only provider in Hong Kong to give parents-to-be access to 100 percent UK-based, independently regulated stem cell storage. Saving your newborn’s stem cells provides you and your family with continued access to them should they ever be required in the future. Athena Life delivers a highly personalized service for your family’s valuable assets and will guide you through the process every step of the way.
Athena Life, 100 Cyberport Road, Hong Kong, +852 8192 8668, Facebook Page