|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:
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.
Honestly, after all of the research I've done (which is way more fascinating than anything I've written here, but way too long for a blog), I think that there are really only two reasons why someone wouldn't do it: 1. Lack of knowledge, and 2. The expense. I can't really help anyone with lack of knowledge beyond encouraging them to READ and ASK QUESTIONS. As for the expense, whoa, yes, it's expensive--especially when you're in the midst of paying for a new baby. Ryan and I sat down and talked about it, though, and have come to the conclusion that we'd rather sacrifice financially now than regret our decision--perhaps to the detriment of our kid's health--in the future. Plus, the older I get the more I realize that money comes in, money goes out, and our job is really just to point it in the right direction.
One final thought: I hope we NEVER have to use these cells. It's funny, because in most investments you would assume the opposite--why pay for something that you hope to never take advantage of? A lot of people cite the low percentage of people who actually use their stored cord blood as a reason NOT to store it, but I can't help but think that all of those people who don't use their cord blood are pretty happy with their outcome. I would be...