Most of us think we’re invincible. But we’re not, and neither are our children.
As a parent, we try to raise our kids the best we can. We make sure they eat right, look both ways before crossing the street and never speak to strangers. But there are some things beyond our control, like the prevention of cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Imagine sitting with your child as the doctor makes his diagnosis. A million thoughts race through your mind as you wonder what you could have done differently. Now, imagine some good news. The doctor tells you of a cure that saves your child’s life.
This is possible through a process known as cord blood banking.
In its simplest terms, cord blood banking is the collection and storage of the stem cells found in your newborn’s umbilical cord. Today, cord blood stem cells have been used to successfully treat nearly eighty life-threatening diseases.
My brother David was twenty-five years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia, also known as cancer of the blood. He fought bravely battling every type of radiation and chemotherapy, but his remissions were short-lived. He desperately needed a bone marrow transplant to save his life. But first, he needed a matching donor.
Being a sibling, I had the highest chance of being a match for my brother. But I wasn’t. My parents tested negative as well. We could only hope a matching donor magically appeared on the National Bone Marrow Registry. Our prayers were answered; we eventually found a matching donor. But it was too late. David was too weak to have the procedure.
I still remember sitting in the hospital room, watching my brother cry as doctors told him there was nothing else they could do for him. David died a few months later.
Leukemia is one of many diseases that can be treated through cord blood banking. Doctors can use your child’s own stem cells to treat the disease, eliminating the need for an additional donor. This process saves time, which saves lives. If cord blood banking was available when my brother was born, he may still be alive today.
Banking our future child’s cord blood was one the first decisions my husband and I made when we learned we were going to be parents. It’s not cheap, but it’s a purchase that’s far more valuable than anything you could put on a baby registry. In fact, some cord blood banks will create an online gift registry so your friends and family can donate and help make your payments more manageable.
If you or anyone you love is pregnant, I encourage you to consider this life-changing opportunity. There’s tons of information online, just google cord blood banking and find a program that’s right for you.
It may be the most important decision you ever make.