Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What To Do When You're Expecting

Anyone who's had a child is familar with the book, What to Expect When You're Expecting. Here is one thing to consider doing while expecting: investigate cord blood banking.

It is unlikely that your future child will ever be afflicted with any of the conditions a cache of stem cells could mitigate/cure. Plus, the initial cost and yearly storage fee is material. My family has learned, however, that the unlikely can happen.

A bone marrow transplant, which hopefully I will never need, is one example where stored cord blood could some day save the life of an adult diagnosed with certain types of Leukemia. There is no better match (and thus minimal risk of the body rejecting it) than one's own genetic material. Additionally, cord blood can be used for a transplant even if it's only a partial match, thus siblings and parents could potentially use one child's stored cells. One of the first things my obstetrician told me when we discussed my leukemia is that we should save my next child's cord blood, just in case I need it if I ever relapse.*

As science develops, there will be even more applications for the umbilical cord stem cells. Scientists are also researching ways of harvesting stem cells from adults, which could make cord blood banking unneccesary. However, harvesting adult stem cells is still in a developmental stage.

Although the above may read like a sales pitch, I am not getting a kickback from the cord blood banking companies. It may be the right choice for some families, but there are a lot of considerations, cost being one of them.

The following link may be helpful for anyone who is expecting, or expects to expect: Banking Your Baby's Cord Blood: An Overview

The cord blood preservation option is a good insurance policy, but doesn't eliminate the need today for bone marrow donors for leukemia patients needing a transplant. That will be the topic of another blog entry.

* Fertility is a common concern for young adults with cancer (as well as for many couples without cancer). Each patient has his/her own specific concerns and circumstances. It is a complex and difficult subject to discuss. I still cry over Lily's loss when I go to Babies R Us to get Katelyn more diapers. Maybe once diapers no longer make me cry, I'll write about the subject.