What Is Placenta Banking?
Placental tissue banking is the process of collecting stem cells from the placenta after delivery and storing them for future medical use, often by freezing.
Why Freeze the Placenta?
When thinking of organs that could save your life one day, the placenta probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your head. However, the placenta plays a central role in the growth of a fetus. The placenta is your growing baby’s “food bank” for oxygen, nutrients and waste removal. Due to being made of both maternal and fetal tissue, the placenta is FULL of rich stem cells that can turn into ANY cell needed by the body.
In the words of Robert Hairiri, MD, PhD, surgeon, biomedical scientist and entrepreneur, “I often argue that at the instant of birth, a healthy newborn has gone through nature’s quality control process. If the DNA wasn’t perfect, you wouldn’t have a viable offspring. So if you can recover those cells it’s like immediately freezing fruit off the tree.”
The Importance of Stem Cell Research
Doctors and medical research analysts are hopeful that stem cell studies can help to:
- Increase knowledge about how diseases occur.
- Doctors may better understand the onset and conditions of diseases by studying how stem cells mature into cells in the heart, bones, nerves, organs and tissues.
- Produce healthy cells to replace diseased ones.
- Stem cells can be manipulated into becoming specific cells that can be used to regenerate and repair damaged tissues in people.
- The beneficiaries of this ability would be those struggling with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, burns, cancer and osteoarthritis.
- Stem cells may even have the potential to become NEW tissue for use in regenerative medicine and transplant.
- Researchers of the medical field continue to move forward in the study on stem cells and how they relate to regenerative medicine.
As additional stem cell treatments are discovered, approved, and become more common, the need to privately store cord blood will increase and, HOPEFULLY be cause for an act from Congress. Bills were introduced in 2006, 2007, 2013 and 2015 to try to advocate for cord banking being re-classified as a medical expenditure in the Internal Revenue Service’s tax code.
Placenta Banking Costs
Private cord banking can certainly be expensive, but it’s tough to put a price tag when potentially saving your future child’s life is priceless. The initial processing fee for storing cord blood, tissue or both can range from $500 to $2500 and annual storage fees can cost up to $300 each year after. Placenta banking may be covered by medical insurance, compensated by a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (RHA), eligible for pre-tax dollars as a result of a health savings account (HSA), or flexible spending account (FSA.) These are common financial options if the process is as a result of proven treatment for an existing to probable condition.
As mentioned, a future act from Congress would regularize placenta banking and tax deductions and medical reimbursement would become a standard, priority and need. Of course, these savings pale in comparison to the peace of mind that comes from placenta banking and having a solid plan for any health problems that could arrive in the future for your little one.