Viacord is a private company that charges a fee for the preservation and continuous storage of a baby's cord blood. There are different payment plans and levels of service, dependent upon the contract that a customer chooses. Viacord services include the collection of blood at the hospital, courier pick-up service, cryopreservation and long-term storage. In the event that a family member needs access to the cord blood, the company coordinates safe delivery of the preserved blood to the medical facility. Viacord does not accept cord blood donations for use by the public.
Donating Cord Blood
Although Viacord, as a private company, does not accept donations of cord blood for public use or research, the National Marrow Foundation does operate a public bank that matches up donated cord blood stem cells with patients who are in need of a transplant. There is no cost to the patient to donate, and the process does not change the delivery experience in any way. Cord blood is taken from the umbilical cord only, after it has been cut, and does not cause any discomfort for your baby. The bank then cryopreserves the cord blood and attempts to find matches for patients who are in need of cord blood to treat a condition such as leukemia and lymphoma. Because many patients who need such a transplant cannot find an exact tissue match within their own family, donated cord blood is vital.
Uses for Cord Blood
Cord blood differs from regular circulatory blood in that it is rich in blood-forming cells that can help patients with life-threatening conditions. This blood contains stem cells, which not only encourage new tissue growth and development but also serve as the building blocks of the immune system. Other sources of transplants include marrow and circulating blood, but cord blood is less likely to be rejected by the body than either of these options.
If you are considering donating your cord blood, you should know that if you choose to do so, that blood is not in any way guaranteed to be available should someone in your family need it at a later date. Public cord blood banks operate on a first-come, first-served basis when an exact tissue match is found. This means that if someone else needs the cord blood first, that person will receive it. The only way to guarantee that you have cord blood available for your use is to pay to have it stored by a private company such as Viacord. That said, the National Marrow Donor Program notes that there is an urgent need for donor cord blood and that more than 6,000 individuals per day are looking for a tissue match through their program. If you do donate your baby's blood and have a need for cord blood later, you would be eligible to receive a donation through the same channels as other recipients of donated cord blood.
Because cord blood storage and donation are relatively new technologies, and uses are still evolving, there are many misconceptions that surround the process. Many people mistakenly assume that taking cord blood will alter the delivery and birth experience or cause the baby pain. This is not true. Cord blood is taken from the umbilical cord after it has been cut from the baby. Because it is taken after delivery, it will not change your birth experience in any way. Additionally, couples commonly believe that it is not worth storing cord blood because the odds of needing cord blood cells later are so slim. Doctors estimate that the odds of someone in your family getting a condition that would benefit from a cord blood transplant are around 1 in 1,400. Low odds, yes, but not terribly low. If you choose not to preserve your baby's cord blood with a private company, do consider donating it to a public blood bank, where another person may enjoy a longer life because of it.
Viacord is a private company that preserves cord blood, taken from the umbilical cord at the birth of a child, for possible future use. Cord blood is used in the treatment of many serious diseases, and families that store this blood will have access to it in the event that a member of that family can benefit from it. Viacord does not accept cord blood donations, although there are public cord blood banks in the U.S.