Saturday, September 26, 2009

Stem cell banking - A must read for all, esp To-Be-Moms

I am doing a post on stem cells as I think this is very important and everybody should be aware of stem cells, their importance and the effect it could have on anyone's life.

A timely mention about stem cell banking from a friend of mine when I was carrying got me to read and research a bit and what we learnt made me go through with it and we have preserved our daughter's stem cells.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells, as the name suggests, are the basic cells in our body, from which various kinds of cells are formed. They are blank cells with no specific function and given the right environment, they can regenerate into any kind of cell -say a blood cell, a nerve cell or a muscle cell. They can divide repeatedly and replenish cells within the body thus aiding the repair system in our body. They are also called as adult stem cells.

How do we benefit from stem cell?

As stem cells have the unique capability of transforming itself into any type of cell, they are being looked at for replacement of various cells and tissues and stem cells transplantation is becoming more viable and successful in curing lots of diseases. Stem cell is being looked at to cure various diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's diseases, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, etc. One type of stem cell therapy that we are already familiar with is the bone marrow transplant.

Sources of Stem cells

Bone marrow, embryonic tissue, amniotic fluid or umbilical cord blood. Of these, rich sources of stem cells are the bone marrow and  umbilical cord blood, which is the blood left over in the umbilical cord and placenta of a newborn child. In fact, research has it that "Cord blood is found to contain 10 times more stem cells than an equally sized portion of bone marrow.The major advantage is that umbilical cord blood stem cells are easier to gather than stem cells from the bone marrow. They have the unique ability to regenerate/reproduce into over 200 types of tissues.

What is stem cell banking?

Normally, the umbilical cord is discarded after birth. However, as the umbilical cord blood is a rich source of multi-potent stem cells, umbilical cord blood is collected soon after birth and stored in a stem cell bank, where stem cells are harvested from the cord blood and preserved in an appropriate environment . Umbilical cord blood stem cells hold immense potential for stem cell therapies, due to their versatile nature and easy availability.

How can the stored stem cell be used ?
Stem cells, collected from the umbilical cord of  the child, can be frozen and kept in a bank, which can be used later. God forbid, if something untoward happens to the child, there won't be any need to turn heaven and hell to find a matching donor.These stem cells can be surely used for the child, siblings or can even be donated to any patient (if there is a match) just like donating blood.


The advantages speak for themselves as stem cells therapy is a major breakthrough in the field of medicine and the medical research continues further to advance the technology. Stem cells have been proven to cure a lot of diseases. Refer to this link  and this link for a couple of success stories. There can be no doubt that it is definitely to our kids' advantage that we store their stem cells.


Right now, the cost for stem cell banking is high and not all can afford. There is also the fact that having spent so much, it may not be used at all. But whoever can afford it, they have to look upon it as a health insurance and health insurance always comes with a cost. That is how we looked at it and went ahead in spite of the high cost.
However all is not lost as there is also an EMI option in the pay structure for those who cannot the pay the whole amount in a single shot

Leading Stem cell bank in India

Lifecell is one among the leading players right now. The website has detailed information about stem cells and related information.

Disclaimer: This is not a product or service review. I am not advertising and no one is paying me to write this. This is a genuine wish to spread the knowledge and awareness of stem cells

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