Monday, June 8, 2009

Cord Blood Banking

In short, cord blood banking is preservation of the stem cells from a baby's umbilical cord, for possible future use in treatment of life-threatening diseases for the baby and other immediate family members. Basically, you invest to preserve what could be a miracle cure down the road.

Unfortunately, not for us at this time. I got a brochure from the doc's office that made me believe it was something we'd consider, but I just found out the brochure was outdated.

Just a few short years ago this company offered cord blood collection for $365 plus a banking fee of $90 per year, for storage. Now all the companies charge $1,500 to $2,200 for the initial collection and $125 a year for storage.

And since I'm feeling just a little bit of guilt over our decision not to make the investment at this time, allow me to defend my position.

1.) Neither Brian nor I has any family history of childhood or adolescent diseases of the blood or immune system (cancers, genetic problems, etc.). So while anything is possible, the odds are on our side and do not present any strong or compelling argument for preservation.

2.) While the cord blood bank researchers claim these cells have been used to treat more than 40 life-threatening diseases, cord blood banking is still relatively new, and questions remain about the cells' viability years down the road. Herhshey is happy to assist in collection of cord blood (a third-party company provides the kit & stores the cells), but I feel like they'd be more involved or active in banking and research, if cord blood stem cells really did hold the key to cures of the future.

3.) In many cases, the cord blood of an infant can often be used to benefit other family members, including siblings. If this is the case, maybe cord blood banking will be more mainstream if/when we have a second baby. Not banking now doesn't necessarily close the door on the benefit forever.

4.) Finally, cord blood stem cells aren't the only answer for treatment of such diseases. Other (established) treatment methods may be available, and stem cell transplants can come from other places, including a parent's blood and/or tissue.

Uggh. The marketing brochures and Web sites sure don't make the decision to pass any easier. They all make me feel like an irresponsible parent, too cheap to protect my child's health down the road.

But ultimately, the decision is ours, and we've made it.

1 comment:

Connie said...

I agree that if this procedure were really the panacea that some literature makes it out to be, Hershey Med would be more actively involved. At this point that amound of money could be more wisely invested elsewhere. If/when another child arrives, the technology could be vastly improved, and you could always revisit the issue then. I think you made the right choice!