Disclaimer: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Dad Central for the Cord Blood Registry. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
It’s something every parent wants to avoid thinking about, that nagging worry about “what if?” You know what I mean. What if my child gets into a terrible accident? What if they contract a dread illness? What if the magical mix of genes that you and your spouse combined to produce ’em also has given them hereditary problems that don’t surface for years?
This is why with my children we’ve put a huge amount of effort into healthcare and working with health providers that can help us with the various challenges we’ve seen, including my son’s life-long journey through the rough road of food and environmental allergies. Scary. But it’s an even bigger issue at stake here.
The question I want to talk about is this:what if something that would ordinarily be discarded after a birth turned out to have some rather remarkable medical properties and could quite literally save a life, either that of your child or someone else?
I’m talking about the blood derived from the umbilical cord, know more commonly as “cord blood”. Turns out that the blood cells in the umbilical cord aren’t like regular blood cells from adults blood donations or even like the blood cells elsewhere in the woman’s body. They’re hematopoietic stem cells, known informally as “stem cells”, and they work wonders when children or adults with the promising field of regenerative medicine or organ and related transplants. Stem cell research includes some amazing things, including possible cures for acquired hearing loss, autism, cerebral palsy, pediatric stroke and traumatic brain injury.
You can donate that precious cord blood to a public cord blood bank and help out someone facing a difficult surgical operation or you can use what’s called a “Family Bank” or family cord bank, where the perfect match of cord blood to your child is a medical insurance policy against future illness or trauma.
I’m not sure which we would have chosen had we have been more aware of the options when our children were born, but I’d like to think we would have opted for the public cord blood bank and known we’d have helped a stranger out in a really big, important way.
How about you? Are you expecting? If so, congrats! Sleep while you can. And spend a minute or two thinking about the stem cells in that cord blood you’re about to have the nurse or midwife discard as medical waste. To learn more, start at the cordbankingbasics.com or just go to the Cord Blood Registry.
Handy tip: If you visit the site before Mar 24, 2014 and fill in an information request, you’ll also receive a handy $200 discount on the cost of banking your newborn’s cord blood.