Cord Blood Registry. ViaCord. LifeBankUSA. I could fill this entire post with names of cord blood banking companies. (No, really, I counted!) It’s big business and big controversy.
Cord blood banking is the practice of saving your baby’s umbilical cord and placental blood for potential use in the future. The blood cells found inside the umbilical cord have been used to treat some childhood cancers and other immune system disorders -- trials are even being done today to see if stem cells from cord blood can help cure Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
So one decision you may need to make (in the middle of holding your newborn and pooping on the table and cameras flashing) is whether or not you want to bank your baby’s cord blood.
But there’s more to it …
You have two options: public or private. Private banking is spendy, but your blood is your blood, and it’s there should you need your blood. In public banking, the cord blood is donated anonymously. Anyone could use your blood if it’s a match, and you can likewise use anyone else’s. In that sense, it’s more like a conventional blood bank.
But there are other issues to consider:
The Money Issue -- Private banks charge a lot to store your cord blood. Not many parents are in a position to pay these fees. They also run extremely aggressive marketing campaigns. Go to Google and see how many entries and ads it takes you to get to unbiased cord blood info. I’ll wait. Their brochures are what you get when you go to the doctor. They run ads on any site or blog that has anything to do with being pregnant. They have a lot of doctors on the payroll. For some people this is a problem; for others, the banking is a bigger priority.
The Insecurity Issue -- Pregnancy is the perfect time to prey on any new parent’s insecurities. You’d better save that blood! Your kid could get sick! You’re going to need that! As one mom told me, “Who wouldn’t spend any amount of money if it meant saving your child’s life?” Cord blood banking plays on your emotions as much as it does practicalities, so you need to carefully weigh both.
The Ownership Issue -- Even if you bank with a private bank, your contract may not state that YOU have ownership over the blood. This means that there can be a lot of ambiguity surrounding how your blood may be used by the bank itself -- for other research for instance.
The Viability Issue -- Public or private, there is no guarantee that any cryogenically frozen blood could still be usable in the future. So banking your blood is a bit of a gamble, in that sense.
The Safety Net Issue -- This is the one that outweighs all the negatives for most parents. Cord blood banking does provide you with a kind of safety net. Should your child get sick, you have a potential cure locked away. Although the likelihood of ever needing the banked blood is slim, the cells found in that blood have worked miracles in some cases.
The bottom line is that controversy or not, the choice to bank your baby's blood is very personal. It's a decision only you can make.
So, what DO you think about cord blood banking? Have you done it? Will you?
Image via rtopalovich/Flickr