by Meredith Weiss
My husband and I were going to be first time parents. Everything was a learning experience, and in the world of baby, just choosing a stroller or brand of bottles seemed to be an overwhelming choice. Then we were exposed to another choice -- whether to privately bank our newborn's umbilical cord blood.
"What was this about?" we asked each other, and was it worth the cost? I am in the medical field -- I am a physical therapist and had heard a little about cord blood banking, but was unsure of the specifics of banking, much less all the different companies that offered such service. Like any parent, we wanted the best for our daughter, and to be able to give her every possible comfort and option in life that we could so of course we had to find out more about banking her cord blood.
How We Learned about Cord Blood Banking
I had just made it through the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy when I got an email one day from a friend who had both sad and wonderful news to share about her 2-year-old boy. He had been diagnosed with leukemia; fortunately the parents had stored his cord blood at birth and the child is recovering beautifully. He is in full remission and everyone is well. I had seen brochures on cord blood banking at my OB/GYN's office, but the issue didn't truly touch home until we heard of our friend's personal experience.
Why We Chose to Privately Bank our Newborn's Cord Blood
Being a physical therapist, I have first hand experience of working with persons with disabilities and how neurological and systemic diseases affect every aspect of their lives. To know that I would have the one time opportunity to potentially save my daughter from such diseases, how could I not save her cord blood?
Hopefully, of course, she will never need to touch it, but G-d forbid she should ever need her stem cells, I could never forgive myself for not having saved them just for her. Yes, there is a cost, but that expense is so incredibly minor to the cost of medical care, transplant and resource costs associated with having to search for "outside" solutions (i.e. donor match, personal care aides, hospitalizations, etc.).
Further, with private cord blood banking there is the obvious benefit of time -- it is usually a race against the clock should a child need a donor match for a stem cell treatable disease. When a person has his own cord blood available for him, it is right there and ready. Wow. What an incredible blessing.
Such an opportunity to save her cord blood is literally only once in a lifetime -- at birth. My husband and I told each other this was our first birthday present to her! And as we thought about it, the expense really wasn't all that much -- those middle of the week "order in" dinners we gave up three a month. Not a bad sacrifice for only one year.
Do Your Homework
As with anything, there are good providers and not so good providers. We know this from experience with doctors, stores, etc. With a myriad of cord blood banks to choose from, do your homework.
- Which one is right for you and your family?
- Does the company take care of all the courier arrangements, or are you left to bring the unit of cord blood to the post office or shipping store?
- How does the company collect, select, and store the cord blood?
- Different companies do have different methods; what has each company's success rate been?
- Does the company stand behind their science?
- Do they offer a guarantee?
- Talk with family and friends that have been through this process to ask of their experience, and ask your doctor. Unfortunately, some medical professionals are not current on the science and benefits of cord blood. Make certain that your nurse/midwife/OBGYN shares information based on current data.
Wishing you a happy and healthy nine months and beyond!
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