Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cord Blood Conundrum

Many things to write about, but the latest is the conundrum over whether to have our kid's cord blood saved when the kid is born.

The deal is this: docs can collect cord blood and save the cells to use down the road to fight against catastrophic health conditions. There are a handful of very obscure conditions that cord blood cells currently help, but the idea is that down the road, conditions I'm more familiar with, like type 1 diabetes, may get helped with the cells collected from cord blood.

Problem is, it's expensive up front to collect the cells, approx. $1500-2000 to collect it, and about $125 a year to store it.

The bigger issue, in my mind, is that there are plenty of cord blood banks out there, and I've talked to three this week. They are all very strong with the marketing blather and make me wonder why they're all such hard sellers.

With the diabetes and the cancer scare a few years ago, I have the kind of medical history that makes me want to do this. The Mister agrees.

Then again, there's the argument that if your kid has, say, leukemia, the kid wouldn't be best treated with its own cord blood, because those cells may have the same leukemia-producing genes that caused the problem in the first place. But if a sibiling has banked cells, the leukemia child could use the cells of the sibling's banked cord blood to try to fix the problem.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends banking with a public bank, where there's no cost and like any blood bank, you don't get your own blood back if you need it. But I don't know much about public cord blood banking, and I don't know if it's necessarily available where we are right now. Another take on the situation is here.

But how do we pick one place over another? Cost? Well, the cheapest place we found is in Florida, where the sales rep I talked to told me how secure their facility is in light of natural disasters like hurricanes. Do we go closer to home? Well, the instate place near us brags about how their facility is in state, but does that really matter in this electronic, courier-driven age? And the third place that our doctor friends recommend is the most expensive, but also does research on site. But it's not like they wouldn't share the results of that research if they stumble on the cure for diabetes, right? So why would I care who is doing the most research on it?

Does it matter if a company is publicly-owned or not? Been in business the longest?

Oy. And I do research for a living.

Of course, of these three, two have discounts that extend til tomorrow, because it's the end of the month, and like buying a car, I suspect these places have monthly quotas to fill.

And our OB and the two pediatricians we met with weren't much help. All told us they think it's a lot of money and nothing's really been proven yet. We're willing to pay the money (Dude, we just spent thousands last year on health care and infertility costs. What's another two grand?), but how to pick where to spend it?

SO ANYONE who's decided to bank their kid's cord blood--tell me your thoughts. How'd you pick the place you went with?


caren said...

My brother is a too smart for his own good cardiologist at Vanderbilt in Nashville who happens to be dating a radiologist. I asked them what they thought about it and within a second they both said absolutely, it’s worth it. It’s a tough pill to swallow, with the high price, but there are a lot of things we buy as a gamble in life.

We plan to look into it when our time comes, but there would have to be a compelling reason to change my mind. HTH

Annie said...

Hi there, just started reading, but also have Type 1 Diabetes and am 10 weeks pregnant. I am having so many of the concerns you have (are still are having), and am also looking into cord blood preservation. My good friend is studying adult stem cells and has advised the hubby and I that it is a wonderful thing to do. But, it is pricey - we looked into one place that charges $1700 and $125 a year (in California). But, really what is the cost of saving your child one day if need be? I will continue to research it and come to a decision soon. Right now, we are leaning toward doing it, since we are big believers in science and technology. I will check back and see what others say about it too. Thank you for chronicling your pregnancy. I have read many of your posts and feel much better after doing so. GOod luck!

Anonymous said...

We did it for both of our kids and are glad we did. We used CBR and they were very helpful with the collection kits and getting the stuff to the lab after the kids were born. We hopefully will never need them but if they save my little guys one bit of pain or discomfort they will be well worth it.

Anonymous said...

Cord blood has been transplanted over 6000 times worldwide in the treatment of 45 different blood disorders including leukaemia. It can also be used to repair the bone marrow after high dose chemotherapy.

Current research indicates that cord blood is also a possible source of stem cells to use in the treatment of nerve, muscle and connective tissue disorders and some endocrine disorders such as diabetes.

A clinical trial in Canada hopes to assess cord blood stem cells in the treatment of multiple sclerosis if funds can be raised (

Hope this helps!

Dr Peter Hollands

Ottoette said...

The public cord blood bank here in CO is full and not accepting anymore. People have been generous in donating and they have no uses for it as of yet. When I researched this 3 years ago, it seemed iffy at best that there would be any use for DS' cord blood. Looks like I need to re-open the investigation.

Carey said...

Hi. We did our research about two years ago and decided to go with on a recommendation from a friend. We thought perhaps the baby could help out his big brother Charlie some day.

The blood bank folks came quickly to collect the blood and the kit's directions were clear and easy to understand.

Took me a little while to find it again, but this website is just loaded with information. Much more so than any other website on the topic. Well, it was two years ago.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Financial stability should be your number 1 criterion. If the company goes bankrupt, there goes your cord blood. One of the major companies is associated with the University or Arizona... you'll be able to determine which one.

Scott said...

Right now, there is no guarantee that banking the cord blood or stem cells will do anything. This is especially true for autoimmune diseases (including type 1 diabetes), where the body's immune system turns against the very tissues its supposed to be protecting. However, it could potentially do something, the real question is whether you can afford it. Try not to loose too much sleep if you decide against it, after all, our parents didn't do it for us, either!

LORI said...

Wow, I have to admit, I've never even heard of such a thing...

Brian said...

We saved our blood for all 3 of our children and they were all born in a healthy state. My son contracted type 1 diabetes and we are very fortunate to find the University of Florida study that worked with stem cell infusion in recently diagnosed diabetics. I am proud to say that after infusion, my son is still in "Honeymoon" phase going on 39 months now. Essentially, it appears that we have significantly reduced (possibly stopped, but that may be too much to hope for) the antibodies that are destroying the beta cells. My son continues to produce beta cells, albeit a a lower rate where he still requires insulin injections.

The technology is exciting and we are witnessing the difference everyday. Now, this is by no means a cure, but if we can keep him relatively healthy for as long as we can, it can only work well for him.

There is a cost absolutely, but we have always viewed it as an insurance policy.


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