On a global level, there are more than 60,000 transplants with cord blood stem cells every year. But India sees only about 3,000, despite being the most populated country in the world.
Bringing up a new life comes with loads of responsibilities. And securing the future days of your little bundle of joy is a primary one. Luckily, as would-be parents, you do have an incredible option in hand in the form of stem cell banking. Hailed as a primary pillar of life, preserving stem cells appears to be the key to many health riddles. It can not only arm your baby against a wide list of diseases but can also safeguard the entire family. Imagine how nice it would be to live a life where medical woes can be met with personalized cures.
But despite promising a brighter future, stem cell banking in India has yet to gain pace. Experts claim a need for more awareness about the process to be a significant factor behind it.
Well, we understand it is a big decision for expectant guardians. So, let’s get to the bottom of the matter and analyze its worth to ease things for you.
What is Stem Cell Banking?
Also known as cord blood banking, stem cell banking is a scientific revolution. In this, the umbilical cord blood of the baby is extracted and stored post-delivery. For those unaware, cord blood refers to the blood that is left in the umbilical cord and the placenta after the birth of the baby.
How does Stem Cell Banking Work?
During or near term, the body prepares itself for labor with a mother-fetal cell transfer. This blesses both the mother and child with stronger immunity. As well as boost the cord blood with precious stem cells. The stem cells, along with other vital cells, are then cryogenically frozen. The method involves storing the cells under subfreezing conditions. It put a pause on the dying process to preserve them for potential medical use in the future.
Is Stem Cell Banking In India Useful?
Cord blood is like regular blood, with platelets, plasma, and red/ white blood cells. However, it is the presence of stem cells that makes it valuable. These are unique cells, similar to the immune-boosting ones in the bone marrow. They possess the ability to grow or mature into diverse varieties of blood cells. Making them a possible solution to a host of life-threatening health conditions. And guess what? The fact that cord blood has 10 times more cells than those in the bone marrow makes stem cell banking worth a try.
Stem Cell Preservation Benefits
Stem cells have the potential to cure several complex medical scenarios. The number can go as high as 80 plus medical issues.
Patients who require transplants highly benefit from them. These cells, when transplanted into the patients, assist in making new healthy cells.
The transplants work great in the cases of:
Leukemia (blood cancer)
Lymphoma (lymphatic cancer)
Bone marrow complications (typically those that require a transplant)
Immune system diseases
There are also ongoing studies on whether the cells can cross the blood-brain barrier. If yes, then they may be potent at reducing inflammation. As a result, become the remedy for many conditions that have so far been untreatable. The list includes:
Autism (a developmental disorder that affects one's interactive abilities)
Cerebral Palsy (causes motor disability)
Alzheimer's (impaired mental functioning)
What's more interesting is that stem cell banking benefits the family as well. In other words, the cord blood of your baby will no doubt be useful for your baby if needed. But it can be vital for immediate blood relatives too. Wondering why? Well, this is because the stem cells cannot be transfused to just anyone. They need to be compatible with the cells of the patients perfectly, or at least to a particular degree. In such a scenario, the immediate family members stand a better chance of being a good match. For eg, siblings have a 25% and 50% probability of being a perfect and partial match, respectively.
Types of Stem Cell Banks in India
There are two major types of stem cell banks in India - public and private.
Public stem cell banks function on the model of donation and do not cost you a dime. They use cord blood samples for research. As well as for the general public in transplants, immune therapies, and many more. This is why public stem cell banking benefits can be described as more societal.
In contrast to that, parents spend money to preserve the cord blood of the baby in private stem cell banks. It is more like biological insurance, where the stem cells are kept for the baby or any immediate family. The Indian Academy of Pediatrics, however, prioritizes public stem cell banking. Private banks are advised when the baby or someone in the family has a condition where the cells might be of help.
Which is the Best Stem Cell Bank in India?
LifeCell is trusted to be the top bank in India to maximize stem cell preservation benefits. Established in 2004, it is the popular choice of over 4,50,000+ parents.
The bank uses a creative approach in which the stem cells can be accessed by all members of the community pool. Meaning every unit inside the pool is shared. This ensures that both your baby and family are shielded from a wider range of health troubles. In short, a protection against all of those medical woes, that can be treated by stem cells.
However, India has other top stem cell banks too which you can consider. Like:
CryoViva Biotech India Pvt. Ltd
Cordlife Sciences India Pvt Ltd
Stem Cell Banking Cost in India
Private stem cell banking cost in India varies from bank to bank. So, you need to contact your preferred bank to learn the exact figures. As for Lifecell stem cell banking costs, they come in 3 different packages.
For 1 year - INR 20, 330
For 21 years - INR 49, 144
For 75 years- INR 63, 511
Stem cell banking can be the beacon of hope for many medical conditions with no answers. It is not only a step forward toward a better tomorrow for your little one. But can also help you make a difference in society by donating a lifeline to millions suffering from chronic issues. However, the precious cord blood of your baby must be well preserved to put those cells to good use. So, it’s better to trust only the best stem cell bank in India or those that form the top tier.
The Author : Dr. Sunil Khattri
Dr. Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.