With a new baby on the way, my husband and I have been receiving a lot of information on cord blood banking. Pamphlets, coupons, magazines…it was everywhere. Our initial take was: “This sounds like a great idea. Why not preserve the stem cells of our little one?” It was like investing in insurance for his or her future health. One less worry for a new mother…I’ll take it.
With further reading and research, I soon discovered that cord blood banking was the process of taking stem cells from the stem-cell rich blood of the umbilical cord. Some banks also specialize in placenta-cord banking, with the added bonus of this blood containing a much higher percentage of the CD34+ stem cell, which has been claimed to result in a higher survival rate of transplant patients. This preserved blood has been said to treat nearly 80 life-threatening diseases such as cancers, blood disorders, immunodeficiences and more. Remarkably, it has also been documented to treat siblings through a stem cell transplant.
The potentials were impressive, but I was much more interested in the facts. What diseases or disorders were proven to have been treated by cord blood? Was the investment of long-term storage really going to be worth it? I discovered that the proven treatments were: bone marrow failure syndromes, hemoglobinopathies, immunodeficiences, metabolic disorders, blood disorders and cancers. Not nearly 80, but some very important uses non-the-less and with further research and practice, I had no doubt that the treatment list would increase over time.
A family member of mine has a child who is currently undergoing stem-cell transplants. Her son contracted a serious illness just 6 days after birth that severely affected his brain and development. Knowing what she does now, she feels that she would certainly make the investment in cord blood banking and plans to do this for her next child. After all, the stem-cells have been claimed to work best when they are a perfect match.
Clearly, there are some huge benefits to participating in cord blood banking, whether you choose to donate to a public bank or participate in private banking. The reassurance of knowing that you may be able to save your child from a serious illness later in life is priceless.