|One more thing to remember to bring to the hospital…|
At my last doctor’s appointment, I picked up our cord blood collection kit, which may seem like a strange thing to be excited about, but I’m thrilled!
We’ve decided to collect and store this baby’s cord blood and cord tissue, which I highly advocate. I mean, it’s a personal decision and definitely not a necessity, but as we’ve gotten farther into researching it, we’ve become very convinced that it’s the route for us. For anyone who hasn’t ever really heard or thought about it, let me just give you my opinion–which you can take or leave.
Basically, when your baby is born, there are stem cells (which are uber-pure) in its umbilical cord. If you’ve ever heard that you shouldn’t cut the umbilical cord right away, it’s based on the concept that those last stem cells will be pumped into the baby instead of being wasted. For about the last 20 years or so, though, parents have had the option to actually collect those stem cells and store them for later use. Once you get pregnant, there are posters and brochures and materials EVERYWHERE about it (because I’m sure it’s a very lucrative business), and every parent has to decide yay or nay. Ryan and I decided yay for a few reasons:
1. In case our baby gets sick. What parent doesn’t worry about their kid getting sick? If she ever has cancer, a blood disorder, a metabolic disorder or an immune disease, she could potentially use the these stem cells to get better. If we didn’t opt to save them, we might have to worry about finding someone who’s a match for her in case she needs them down the road. I prefer peace of mind from the beginning–especially since the word “cancer” is involved…
2. In case their sibling gets sick. If we have more kids, they (or even Ryan and I) could potentially use them. (If we had a sick child without banked cord blood, an option would be to try and have an additional kid in hopes that they’re born a “match”–what a nerve-wracking and pressure-filled situation!)
3. It’s a one-time shot. This is a non-controversial way to gather stem cells, and it’s the ONLY time you can take advantage of it. I would hate to need these stem cells down the road and regret not doing it.
4. It lasts a lifetime. They use cryogenic freezing, which means they could be 70 and still use the stem cells. Can you imagine? Ryan and I will be long-gone, and we could still help save our kid’s life!
We’ve also decided to bank the baby’s actual cord tissue, which is relatively new. From the cord tissue, they extract mesenchymal cells, which have different properties that are being explored. Basically, the use of mesenchymal cells is still in clinical trials, but these types of cells can potentially be used to help with:
- Heart disease
- Serious wounds
- Spinal cord injury
- Cartilage injury
- Liver disease
Unfortunately, if our kid has any of these problems right now, it would be experimental for them to be treated with these mesenchymal cells, but since the company we chose to go with is leading the field, we’d have a better chance of even getting into a clinical trial. Plus, although stem cells are really best used with people who are genetically close to the donor, mesenchymal cells aren’t as restrictive and could be used for a range of people–maybe even strangers. I know that storing her cord tissue is DEFINITELY a *bonus,* but I can’t help but think of the people who opted to store cord blood 20 years ago: I’m sure the full extent of its use wasn’t known then (or really even now), but it lasts forever, so down the road they may be able to use them for purposes not yet discovered. What if in 20 years they figured out how to cure cancer with these cells??? Wouldn’t I regret not having them? So we’re placing a bet on science and will be storing her cord tissue too.