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Umbilical Cord Blood Harvesting

It is a prerequisite to create awareness about the procedure of cord blood harvesting to the parents while promoting the advantages of the umbilical cord blood. Many parents fear that cord blood collection might harm the child or the mother. But the truth is the collection of cord blood does not harm the mother or the child in any way and it is painless for the mother. The procedure of collecting the cord blood is called umbilical cord blood harvesting.

The cord blood is collected soon after the child birth once the umbilical cord is cut separating the child from the mother. The cord blood is collected from placenta through the umbilical cord before the delivery of the placenta. 97% of the blood is collected from the placenta whereas only 3% of the blood is collected from the umbilical cord. That is why it is sometimes referred as placental blood. The cord blood harvesting has to be performed quickly as there are high chances of blood getting clotted.

The procedure of harvesting cord blood has to be done by an expert obstetrician or by trained specialist who can perform them in a safe and correct manner. This is due to the fact that there are possibilities of contamination of blood during the procedure. Since the umbilical cord is wound up in birth canals there are high chances bacteria being present there which can contaminate the cord blood. Also any contact with unsterile equipment during the process of harvesting can prove unsafe.

Usually the cord blood is collected in a sterile syringe or a harvest bag. The only disadvantage of collecting them through a syringe is that amount of the blood drawn will be minimal, though it is cost effective and easy to perform. On an average the amount of blood drawn from the placenta is 90ml. But harvesting a larger amount of blood will contribute to preserving a larger amount of stem cells. So it is best to harvest cord blood in the special harvest bag. Whether the cord blood is harvested through the usage of syringe or harvest bag, care has to be taken to make sure that the cord blood is sterile.

Many parents wonder if the cord blood harvesting procedure is safe during high-risk delivery such as diabetes, high blood pressure etc. Cord blood harvesting is safe for not only high-risk delivery but also for unprepared delivery such as premature delivery or C- section or post-term delivery. It is not recommended only in case of HIV infected mothers or those carrying Hepatitis B or C. But in cases where there are multiple complications in delivery, it is left to the judgment and decision of the obstetrician whether to go ahead with cord blood harvesting as there has to be availability of proper time frame to handle such cases.

What is more important is the critical nature of cord blood harvesting. The challenge in conducting a high quality harvesting rests in the fact that a sterile cord blood is collected with the possibility of maximal amount.

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