Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cord Blood Banking

As I'm writing this, I actually have tears rolling down my checks that are splashing on my legs.

For a long time, I was under the assumption that I would not be able to bank this baby's cord blood. I'd thought the stems cells were tainted by my potentially still leukemic blood. Yesterday I decided to look into the possibility once more before writing it off. I'm glad I did.

It took a lot of digging and several phone calls to determine that yes, the baby's cord blood is safe, since there is a separation of those cells from my cells. The baby's stem cells have no history in common with my blood. There may be other maternal diseases that rule out a collection, but at least for leukemia, it is safe. So that was great news.

In doing my research, I came across a notice for a program at one of the major family cord blood banks (CBR) called the Newborn Possibilities Program. CBR offers free cord blood and tissue banking (including the pricey fee for processing the cells, shipping, and the first five years of storage) for anyone who has an immediate family member need for stem cells. The treatment for a relapse of leukemia is a stem cell transplant, so that means I qualify.

I spoke to a genetic counselor, who confirmed I qualify and enrolled me in the program. I'm so thrilled the tears won't stop. Within an hour, I found out both that 1) we can actually bank this cord blood, providing me with an insurance policy, and 2) that due to the generosity of CBR, that insurance policy, worth thousands of dollars, will be free.

If we don't use the cord blood within five years (by which point I will be considered cured, knock on wood), we can choose to continue storing the cells by paying the annual storage fee (but we won't have to reimburse CBR for any of the original hefty processing fee).

Both the medical advancements and the generosity of this company take my breath away. Or maybe that shortness of breath is actually being caused by the little pair of legs pressing against my lungs right now..