I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for the Cord Blood Registry. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
This week I attended an unusual event – an introduction to Cord Blood Banking at the very posh Russian Tea Rooms. I was really keen to attend and learn more because I felt like I hadn’t been well informed enough about cord blood banking during my pregnancy. I should actually say that I wasn’t informed about it at all by my doctors – in Australia it’s not a big deal at all, hence why I hadn’t even heard of it until I moved here, and I didn’t start seeing my New York doctor until I was five months pregnant, and I guess he figured I already knew about it, so didn’t bring it up.
I only knew about cord blood banking because I found a pamphlet in a waiting room somewhere while I was waiting for an appointment. I started researching it online and I didn’t really find super useful information to help me make my mind up about if I should have the cord blood banked or not. I knew enough to know that it was a good thing for science to donate the cells, and was intending to this if I didn’t bank it privately – but the problem was I couldn’t get a definite answer on if it was important enough to bank the blood privately, and while I was humming and haring over my options, I went into early labour and had the baby. BAM, problem solved – no decision made and no cord blood donated or banked.
Why was I thinking of banking it? I have a family history of auto immune disorders (type 1 diabetes and Hashimoto’s disease), so I’ve been worried about the likelihood of Cheese inheriting something. There are currently medical trials in place treating auto immune disorders using stem cells, which is why I was considering banking the cord blood privately.
So more about cord blood banking. Basically, cord blood is the blood found in a baby’s umbilical cord. It’s rich in potent stem cells, the powerful cells used in regenerative medicine. Stem cells have already been used in the treatment of more than 80 conditions, including certain cancers, blood disorders, immune deficiencies, and metabolic disorders.
Expecting parents have two choices when it comes to cord blood. You can either bank it privately so it is reserved for your or your family’s use alone (it costs about $2K upfront, and a yearly upkeep fee of $130), or you can donate it so it can be used by anyone who needs it. It’s free to donate the cord blood, but can be a bit difficult to organise as it means an extra step for hospital staff to have to take care of on top of taking care of you and your baby. Currently, only 10% of cord blood in the USA is collected for either banking or donations. If you want more info on cord blood banking. you can find it here: http://www.cordbankingbasics.com.
Back to the event: a group of bloggers (including myself) were served breakfast at the very swish Russian Tea Rooms, while we listened to talks on cord blood banking on behalf of the Cord Blood Registry, including a personal account of how a stem cell transplant improved the recovery of a child who suffered a stroke. It was really interesting to listen to the facts about cord blood (and heart breaking to learn about the little girl who needed the treatment), and also really great to mingle with other bloggers at such a beautiful venue.
We learned some really useful info about cord blood banking – whether to bank or donate it is a big decision that could really feature more prominently in an expectant parent’s check list. I think we owe it to our children to think through all the options out there that might effect their future health. While it is possible to get stem cells from adults, the stem cells in cord blood are so much more potent as they are brand new and pure – and there is only one opportunity for them to be harvested, at the birth of every child.
While stem cell medicine is still in its infancy, it is already known that stem cells reduce inflammation, stimulate the growth of new cells, promote healing in the body and stimulate blood flow. It’s amazing to think of what might be accomplished, and what diseases might be curable, in the future with the use of these amazing little cells.