I just read this article on CNN.com about public vs. private cord blood banking. I thought I did a great deal of research before Ryan was born and made an educated decision, but sometimes I second-guess myself. I did know that collecting cord blood could prove extremely useful should Ryan have a sibling, so that was a big motivating factor.
If you’re like my friend Z and don’t read articles people recommend because you’d rather be on your spin bike, checking e-mail or returning five pair of sneakers to various stores, here are the highlights:
1. Umbilical cells can be stored, free of charge, to a public cord blood bank for potentially anyone in need of a stem cell transplant for leukemia, sickle cell anemia or dozens of other diseases.
2. Transplant specialists, and even private banks themselves, say umbilical cord cells are often of no use to the child who donated them. For example, if a child develops leukemia, there are usually leukemia cells in the cord blood, making them inappropriate for a transplant. Or if a child has a genetic disorder, that same problematic DNA lies in the cord blood cells, rendering them useless.
3. Dr. Andromachi Scaradavou, a consultant at the pediatric bone marrow transplant program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center says, ”There are very, very, very few situations where a kid could benefit from his own cord blood – it would be like winning the lottery.”
4. Kathy Engle, a spokeswoman for Cord Blood Registry, a private bank, says it’s true that a child’s own cells often won’t work for himself, but that sometimes they do. “Preserving cells today could be something that has very different uses in the future,” Engle wrote in an e-mail. “Of course, we cannot predict that, but unfortunately there is only the one chance to collect the cord blood, so parents’ decisions are time bound.”
5. A child’s umbilical cord cells could be useful for a sibling or other family member who needs a transplant, doctors say. “When I have a patient whose mother is pregnant, I say they absolutely should go ahead and privately bank those cord blood cells when the baby’s born,” Dr. Haydar Frangoul, director of the pediatric bone and marrow transplant program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center says. But he adds that often umbilical cord cells aren’t enough and doctors have to go in and extract marrow from the child who donated the umbilical cord cells to use in addition.
6. If you choose to donate to a public bank, there is a 95 percent chance your child’s umbilical cord cells will still be there if you need them, and you get to have them for free. Here’s the catch: Public banks have strict standards and reject about half of all donations because not enough cells were obtained or there are quality problems with the cells. In that case, you can’t get your child’s cells back because they weren’t stored in the first place.
So it looks like Ryan’s cord blood cells could be useful for Alexa and vice versa, but that I could have banked both of their cells for free to a public bank and probably get them back if I needed them and I would have saved thousands of dollars. Similarly, if either of my children needed life-saving cord blood cells, I could get them from a public bank, which only accepts those cells that meet stringent quality standards.
Did you (or do you) plan to bank your child(ren)’s cord blood privately? What are your thoughts?