November 10, 2014
Recently, I took my children to see their pediatrician for their annual checkups. While we were in the waiting room, I was jotting down notes for a blog article I was working on, so cord blood banking was on my mind during the visit. When we were called back to the examination room, I asked their doctor, more out of my own personal curiosity than anything else, what he thought about cord blood banking. I thought his answer was simple, interesting and worth sharing.
He says that he encourages all expectant parents to consider taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all their children. Now, keep in mind, he is a pediatrician and in most cases does not meet new parents until after their child is born. At that point, any input he has on cord blood banking is moot because the opportunity to collect the unit has passed. However, it is to the expectant parents of his current patients that he tries to impress the significance of cord blood banking for their second, third, fourth child and so on. He says that he admits there are similarities in the most common treatment options when comparing cord blood stem cells to those from bone marrow, but he stresses that cord blood has many advantages over bone marrow. The two most crucial benefits in his opinion, and the primary reasons he stresses cord blood banking to expectant parents, are simple: time and money.
That may sound like an oversimplification, but he explained further. He asked what do parents want most when their child receives a life changing diagnosis? They want to know what can be done and how fast we can make it happen, he said. An actual stem cell transplant does not take long, if it is in fact a treatment option, for the specific diagnosis received. It is the process leading up to the transplant that is very time consuming and most worrisome. He points out that time is needed to do lab work on the patient and close family members to try to find a compatible stem cell match. If no family members are found to be a match, they must then turn to public registries and hope a match can be found. However, there is no guarantee. But, if a match is found, more detailed testing must be done before the donation is conducted, if the donor is still willing to undergo this somewhat invasive donation procedure. So, he said, much precious, irreplaceable time is consumed by this process. He points out that none of this is necessary if a family had chosen cord blood banking. Once your child’s cord blood unit is banked, it is available to your family as soon as the attending doctor notifies the cord blood bank that it is appropriate and needed. There is no waiting, no long testing times, no uncertainty of finding a donor. It is your child’s cord blood unit and it will always be available and a perfect genetic match for him or her.
Being realistic, he says there is another question that will inevitably come up when discussing treatment options, and that is cost. Health care is not cheap, and even with insurance the price of certain treatments could put a stem cell transplant out of reach for some families. He points out that cord blood banking provides benefits for this concern as well. It is an affordable option for families of all income levels. After the initial costs of cord blood banking and storage, which average around $3,000, there are no additional charges to obtain your child’s cord blood unit. This is in stark contrast to the costs associated with obtaining stem cells through bone marrow donation – a procedure that runs, on average, about $35,000, as charged by the hospital.
Though these are very simple reasons for considering cord blood banking, they make the most sense. Cord blood banking means accessibility and affordability. Wouldn’t you want the best, quickest and financially-wise treatment possible for your child?