Cord Blood Banking

What is biological health insurance?

Biological health insurance is where you store your child’s umbilical cord blood stem cells at the time of birth, in case they or another member of the family needs them in the future to help in the treatment of a disease. It may be possible to use the stem cells to treat blood cancers or in emerging therapies to treat diseases such as diabetes, cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s Disease. Clinical trials are being performed all over the world looking at the potential use of stem cells to treat new diseases and hopefully further breakthroughs.

Based on our belief in innovative treatment methods, our charity Leukaemia & Myeloma Research UK has decided to develop Model Cell Biobank – a free stem cell storage service to qualifying families, promoting the concept of biological insurance at a national level.

Model Cell Biobank

The Model Cell Biobank is for the storage of umbilical cord stem cells. In the future, it may be possible to store adult stem cells from adipose tissue (body fat), and from other sources. Clinical trials will have to be performed however before this can be offered as a service, to show that the cells can be processed and stored successfully.

The cord blood banking service is available to all qualifying expectant mothers who live in UK. The Model Cell Biobank is supported by leading specialists in this field.

Our charity is actively participating in these efforts through investment in research and informing people about innovative treatment methods. We strongly believe that stem cell research can help find efficient treatments of blood cancers and other diseases.

Want to learn more?

Public and Private Cord Blood Banks

There are public and private cord blood banks in the UK. Both public and private banks have to be licensed by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA). For more information about the HTA visit the HTA website.

Private cord blood banks are where parents pay to store their baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells for that child or another member of the family in case they need them in the future. The cord blood is required by law to be collected by a trained healthcare professional and usually there is an additional fee for this service.

Public banks are where expectant mothers can donate their umbilical cord blood stem cells for use by any patient that requires a stem cell transplant. It is a purely altruistic act and there is no fee for this service.

In the UK the public banks only work with specific hospitals. They do this because of the wide ethnic mixes, they also need to train the staff who will collect the cord blood, and they want the blood to be transported to their laboratory as quickly as possible. The cord stem cells once successfully processed and stored will be listed on a database that can be searched by doctors worldwide on behalf of patients. If the mother needed the stem cells in the future and they were still available, she may be able to request them if they were required for an approved medical treatment. In the UK there are two public cord blood banks, the NHSBT Cord Blood Bank and the Anthony Nolan Cord Blood Bank.

If you wish to store your baby’s cord blood stem cells privately or donate them to a public bank, you will have to do this in advance of giving birth. You will need to complete a health and life style questionnaire and an informed consent form. Also at the time of birth you will have to have a blood sample taken to test for certain diseases. If you are storing privately you will need to have the cord blood stem cells collection kit sent to you ready for when you give birth.

For more information about cord blood banking, the reasons to bank cord stem cells and the use of them today and the potential use of them tomorrow click here.

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