According to a story published in the Houston Chronicle, on August 30, 2014, Steven Gonzalez Jr can finally lead a normal life at the age of 20, after he was diagnosed of acute myeloid leukemia at the age of 12. His doctors only gave him a 2% chance of survival. After exhausting all possible treatments, a stem cell bone marrow transplant was his only thread of hope. After a worldwide search for possible marrow matches, there was little hope for the young boy from Woodlands. As a last resort, doctors treated him by using two different cord blood samples that matched his needs. So, because of the innovative treatment and the advancement in cord blood banking, Steven can finally realise his dreams of becoming a graphic designer.
What is Cord Blood?
Before understanding the importance of cord blood banking, it is essential to understand the scope of cord blood. Here are a few features of this source of stem cells, which have been approved by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:
- This is the blood that remains in a baby’s placenta and umbilical cord, and can be drawn after birth. It is a rich source of stem cells.
- Stem cells can be used in transplants for treating nearly 80 diseases in both children and adults, ranging from blood diseases to metabolic diseases and even immune disorders.
Features of Cord Blood Banking
- Cord blood banking is not a routine procedure and special arrangements need to be made for safe collection and storage, free from contamination and infection.
- There are two types of banking options, private and public banking. While private banking stores the blood for your own family’s use, in public banking, you donate your child’s cord blood for public use, as and when the need arises. You do not reserve any rights to the stem cells once they are donated to a public facility.
Points to Consider while Making a Decision
Each hospital and cord blood bank will have its own set of policies. It is important to ensure that you understand exactly what lies in store before you agree to store your child’s umbilical cord blood. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Check if the cord blood banking facility is licensed and accredited for specifically storing cord blood.
- Go through the storage procedure that they offer and have it evaluated by your doctor or a stem cell expert. Also, make sure you ask them about their contingency plan or plan for any unforeseen eventuality, like if the bank is no longer functioning in the future.
- Ensure that the costs involved are clearly specified before the procedure takes place.
Although decades of research have gone into stem cell therapy, there are a number of reservations surrounding cord blood banking. Make sure you know the answers to questions like, “Who legally owns the cord blood?” or “What happens if the cord blood is unusable?” before you make a decision.