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More Funding on Stem Cell Research

The Kalorama Information declares a rise of over $700 million funding for the market of stem cell technologies this 2012. The exploration of human stem cell research will expand its scope and it will continue to investigate the numerous benefits of cord blood banking as a source of revenue growth. The study on umbilical cord blood is considered as the least controversial source of stem cells but its process of collection is supported by many health experts and public organizations.

A healthcare market research expects that the funding can reach over $1 billion.

Banking Cord Blood: “It’s like having a safe-deposit box”

Steve Grant is a NYC native who is also the executive president and co-founder of Cord Blood Registry (CBR) in San Bruno, California. He and his wife, Wendy, have four children and all their cord are stored in the bank.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide for instances that nobody can predict,” he said. “It’s like having a safe-deposit box.”

This statement has been agreed by CBR’s spokeswoman – Kathy Engle. Engle knows the hardships of storing over 375,000 samples of cord blood. The responsibility is big, she admits, and the expectations are high. As the largest facility in the world, the company wishes to convince more moms to trust them in the preservation of their newborn’s cord blood.

CBR is fully-aware that banking cord blood is expensive. There’s a one-time fee of $2,665 for storage and its annual storage fee cost $250. The first few months will be the adjustment period and the hardest. However, one can realize the real benefits of storing when one has learned that stem cells in cord blood is a good replacement for bone marrow in a transplant. The stem cells cure life-threatening diseases like cancers, diabetes and cerebral palsy.

Why Donating Saves A Life

Twelve years ago Dionne Wetzel donated her daughter’s cord in Michigan Blood Cord Blood Bank. The decision to donate a cord blood was her way of saving a life which won’t hurt her or her baby. Her donation was marked as the 100th unit to be stored by the center. Luckily, the donated cord blood was not put into nothing. It was put into use as its stem cells were transfused to a fourteen-year-old boy who’s battling leukemia.

The Michigan Blood Cord Blood Bank (MBCBB) is named as the first public cord blood bank in Michigan and the 43th worldwide. It has a twelve-year history of collecting, processing, storing and distributing cord blood for transfusion. As of this writing, it houses 3,600 units and 100 of which are sent out to transplant centers around the world.

Right now, the MBCBB persuades fourteen hospitals in the state to participate in the cause. Participating hospitals include Zeeland, Clare, Grand Rapids, Holland, Midland, Grand Haven, Niles, Muskegon, St. Joseph, Saginaw and Traverse City. Dr. LeeAnn Weitekamp is the medical director of the bank and she said,

“Over 70 percent of our transplants have gone outside the United States, like Turkey and France. We’re making a global difference.”

“Do we need more cords? Yes, especially for the ethnic minority populations, especially African Americans. They have much more diversity in their tissue type and so availability for that population is more difficult.”

Saving A Cord Blood Has No Price Tag

David and Tanya Melancon are married for three years. David is a pharmacist while Tanya is an account manager. While planning to invest on an insurance health policy that can change someone’s life, they decided to store their son’s cord blood before he was even conceived.

Zachary was born on December 15, 2011 and he could be diabetic when he’ll grow up. David and Tanya admitted that both of their families have history of diabetes and their only way of protecting their son from this lifetime disease is by storing his own cord blood in a private bank, in which they need to pay $7000 for twenty-five years.

“Hopefully, we never have to use it, but if we do …,” David said. “If we need it, you can’t put a price tag on it.”

Dr. Michelle Hughes is an obstetrician/gynecologist in Charlton Memorial Hospital, who delivered Zachary. She highly praised the couple’s decision for following what the medical breakthrough wants every couple to do. Stem cells in a cord blood contains a good amount of stem cells and it cures range of deadly diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, leukemia, cerebral palsy and other serious illnesses.

MMC Accepts Cord Blood Donations

Courtney Johns is a twenty-one-year-old mom who just gave birth to baby Albert. She could not afford banking her son’s umbilical cord blood but she did not want to throw it either. That’s why; she decided to donate it to a public cord bank, the Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix.

Baby’s Albert cord blood was the very first unit received by the MMC and Johns instantly became a member of the program.

“Usually they just get thrown away, and if I can help someone else’s baby, I want to do that,” said Johns who feels proud of giving something that doesn’t cost anything but will definitely save a life when someone gets sick.

Dr. Dean Coonrod is also happy with this new project. He assures that MMC will make one deposit to their bank each day.

The minority groups are underrepresented though. These groups are not yet informed by this new medical breakthrough. Several people in this group do not know that an umbilical cord contains stem cells that can cure malignant diseases such as cancers (Acute Leukemia, Chronic Leukemia, Hodgkin & Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Myelodysplastic Syndrome), blood disorders, immune disorders, metabolic disorders, brain injury. cerebral palsy, type-1 diabetes and hearing loss.

The MMC looks forward to reaching out with them and make this project very successful.

Australia Needs More Cord Blood

AusCord is an Australian cord blood bank funded by the government. For the reason that it does not provide cord blood for research purposes unless it is needed for clinical use, insufficient supply is experienced by numerous medical researchers in Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Dr. Iona Novak is the head of the said association and she sincerely encourages more parents to store their newborn’s umbilical cord in private banks. The procedure costs around $3000 and if the numbers of stored units will improve, the research on stem cell research will also get a boost.

”We know that, at the moment, there are about 40 children with cerebral palsy with their own blood banked in Australia, which is not that much to do a study with,” Dr Novak said.

Mark Kirkland is an associate professor in CellCare, a private blood bank. He confirms that there are few privately banked cord blood samples in Australia and these units must be used for research.

”There’s been a lot of negativity around the idea of storing your child’s own cord blood because these are unproven treatments. But it’s a catch-22 – you can’t do the trials because you haven’t stored your child’s blood.”

Dr. Ngaire Elwood is the chairwoman of AusCord and she will look closer into the situation and will find a way to meet the needs of stem cell research once the system for utilization is fixed.

”For the next four years it’s felt that we are generally meeting the needs of the Australian population.”

India: Soon to be The Largest Hub of Cord Blood Units

There will be a time when India shall not only the hub of outsourcing businesses but it will also be the largest collector of umbilical cord blood in the world.

This is due to two reasons:

1) High number of annual births and
2) Its vast genetic diversity

As of the moment, there are twelve licensed cord blood banks in the country and three of this number belongs to the public sector. This is quite a small number to start into, especially for public donation, but the collected samples already reached as high as 50,000 in October.

The demand for cord blood has been on the rise but recent surveys show the number of cord blood transplants in India is very low. This is primarily because of the cost. The entire transplant procedure is very expensive and a lot of people can’t afford it. The country’s government must also expand the limited number of facilities for the preservation of stem cells.

How to Choose a Private Cord Blood Bank

The decision to bank a cord blood is a big risk. Just this summer, Crystal Prince wondered why BioBancUSA (a cord blood bank in Monterrey California) was not answering her phone calls and e-mails. She was very worried and no one to turn to but to ask for help from the media.

Crystal along with an investigative reporter from KTVT traveled 1600 miles just to get to Monterrey. Arriving at the place, they just found out all their assumptions were true. The place was abandoned and there was nothing in there but a sign taken down from a wall.

Robert Hayner is the owner of BioBancUSA and it is confirmed he filed for bankruptcy early this year and owes a total of $10 million. The cord blood bank has failed to monitor its samples since then but still asking for fees to their subscribers. The Department of Health also admitted the company operated without a medical director since October this year. Even the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) had not checked BioBancUSA for two years. Right before the filing for bankruptcy, the FDA already shut down at least two cord blood banks.

Crystal got emotional and said. “I’m very angry for the fact that somebody might have just taken something that could save my daughter’s life but what will hurt me the worst is losing my child because somebody might have been too careless.”

Crystal’s story must serve as a guide to every pregnant mom out there. Researching for a cord blood bank is your first priority before deciding to store. A cord blood bank must be certified and its storage facilities are regularly updated and well-maintained. If possible, the company must offer stem cell therapy. If this option is not offered, the company does not provide enough for the price their clients pay.

Lastly, the company must be tied with a big hospital to ensure the cord blood cells are immediately delivered in the cord blood bank.

Educating the General Public

Education is the key to fight ignorance. That’s what they say, right?

There’s nothing wrong if we continue to educate ourselves. In fact, this is the best way to make us grow as a person, especially if what we are learning can benefit thousands of other people worldwide.

This is the case for cord blood donation and cord blood banking. The BIRTH Art Exhibit as presented by Save the Cord Blood Foundation and with Rachel Manley as their program’s artist is organizing an awareness program in an effort to educate many Americans about the benefits of saving a newborn’s cord right after the delivery.

The BIRTH Art Exhibit already earned huge success during their symposiums in San Francisco, in Ventana Medical Galleries and in Tucson, wherein the Jazz Legends Festival was held.

Cord Blood America & its Referral Reward Program

Another marketing strategy popularly known as the referral reward program is implemented by Cord Blood America Inc. (CBAI). This is an attempt to increase their number of preserve cord bloods.

CorCell is CBAI’s domestic subsidiary and it announced the referral program during this midyear. The said program will offer $200 to anyone who can persuade someone to register at CBAI. When parents, newlywed or not, decides to preserve their newborn’s cord blood at CBAI, they can expect a $200 discount on the enrollment fee.

“We believed this program would be a success, and that friends would tell friends about the importance of saving a baby’s stem cells at the time of birth, but even we didn’t envision the program succeeding this well,” Erin Tecca said. She is the company’s Business Development Manager.

“We always have had a great number of referrals, most from within our customer base, but with the new Referral Rewards Program we are receiving referrals from a much larger network of people.”

The CBAI branch in Las Vegas, Nevada officially announced the success of the program. As of July 7, 2011 – its referral sales have increased from eight percent to twenty-one percent of its total sales.

The main ambition of the Cord Blood America is to become a global stem cell storage company. This dream won’t be impossible if their referral program is regularly supported by expectant parents.