How much is your baby’s health worth? This seems like a rhetorical question since your bundle of joy’s good health is priceless and as a parent we would do anything to ensure our child is healthy. However, it was surprising to me that among the parents I know, I was the only one that chose to bank my baby’s cord blood- a potentially life saving treatment. After sharing my experience and giving an “a-ha” moment, I realized cord blood banking would be an instinctive choice for most parents-to-be if more awareness was given to the life saving benefits of cord blood and affordability of private banking services.
I knew nothing about cord blood banking until I was in my 2nd trimester of my first pregnancy- not more than 5 months ago. There was a poster for StemCyte in my obstetrician’s exam room and it prompted a conversation. I instantly knew I would be banking my daughter’s cord blood because I want her to have the full benefit of all available treatments should her health ever be at risk.
Cord blood is rich in stem cells which are the foundation of all cells. In non-scientific terms, stem cells can be “grown” into other types of cells such as bone marrow, muscle tissue, organs, etc…Once transplanted (similar to a blood transfusion), stem cells can help repair the body by growing into the “good” cells to replace the cancerous, injured, or deteriorated cell. An example is the use of stem cells to regenerate spinal cord tissue after a serious spine injury. StemCyte dubs cord blood as a “self repair kit” for your baby. The cord blood is collected by your doctor immediately after delivery. If you intended for your spouse to cut the umbilical cord, forget it. Your healthcare professional will need to do it to ensure the most amount of cord blood is collected.
Shortly after the cord blood was collected, my husband called StemCyte’s 800 number, which was listed on the kit they provided us. Their courier came shortly thereafter and our daughter’s cord blood was immediately transported to StemCyte’s lab for processing and storage. If you did not bank your baby’s cord blood, there are public banks where stem cells are donated. Similar to organ transplants, you have to qualify to be granted those stem cells and it may not be a successful match.
The benefits of privately banking your baby’s cord blood are it’s a guaranteed match for your baby, a 50% chance of matching siblings (and potentially a parent) and you own it, so the cord blood may be transplanted at your discretion. My daughter’s cord blood will be stored for the next 18 years. After the 18th year, she can choose to renew the contract indefinitely. Let me re-phrase, she WILL renew the contract indefinitely.
Currently, more than 80 diseases can be successfully treated with stem cells. With cord blood having an indefinite shelf life, and with the progressiveness of stem cell research, I can only imagine the diseases it will cure when she’s an adult. AIDS, Alzheimer’s Disease, Cerebral Palsy, and Diabetes, just to name a few are in clinical trials for stem cell treatment. For more information on cord blood banking, Stemcyte and Parents Guide Cord Blood are good resources. For a onetime fee of about the same cost of your car’s annual insurance policy, you can privately bank your baby’s cord blood for the next 18 years. It’s the best insurance you can buy and a parent can’t afford not to do it.
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