Banking a possible cure: cord blood
Last week, I wrote about one of the things I try to do to protect my children, which is to carry a life insurance policy. But there’s another precaution my wife and I have taken in case their pancreas decides to play a “like-father-like-son” game. At their birth, we collected and froze their umbilical cord-blood. Just in case.
Right now, there’s no proof that the stem-cells in the kids’ cord blood can be used to prevent or reverse diabetes in the event it should afflict them (or — fingers crossed — reverse diabetes in their dad!). Nor do we know that diabetes is even in their future at all. But I do know that, because of me, their chances are somewhat elevated. (I’m sorry!!) That thought sickens me.
Last week, Tom Karlya, VP at Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, father of two children with diabetes, and blogger Diabetes Dad, wrote the following in his blog;
Want to cause a riot in your house, try this. “Honey I went through the genetics on both sides of our families and it seems our child’s diabetes comes from your side.”
There’s no need to do the research in my family. If the kids get diabetes, the guilty-party would be clear. It’s me. I know that I’m the reason for their elevated risk. So in addition to worrying, looking for signs, and occasionally testing their blood sugar in their sleep, I’ve done something to try to protect them.
But the state of current research strongly suggests that, in the very near future, cord blood could reverse the underlying cause of diabetes. (Where have we heard that one before??)
Again, this is all speculation and nobody knows for sure. At this time, JDRF does not encourage parents to bank cord blood and worries that the companies that do collect it may play on the fears of parents. They also suggest that the “thing” that makes a child susceptible to diabetes is already present in the cord-blood, so it might not help anyway. Makes sense to me. Understandably, there are lots of vague terms and expectations, which is why they suggest donating cord blood for research to reach more solid conclusions.
Still, my wife and I did it – we found a company who stores cord blood at an acceptable cost (there is a big disparity between companies). While we used the same company for both kids, we store their blood at different locations in different states, just in case something happens to one location.
Of course, when they say cord blood is filled with “potential”, that potential is to treat lots of other diseases, not just diabetes. But it’s still “potential”, meaning it can’t do anything yet.
So I’m curious. For parents (or parents-to-be) with diabetes, did you (or are you) banking your child’s cord blood, and if so, are you keeping it for yourself or donating it? What are your expectations?
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Both of my kids’ blood has been stored with AlphaCord. They are smaller and lesser-known than some of the other companies, but we’ve been quite happy with them. The only difference between them and some of the others is that someone (usually the father) has to bring the sealed and boxed collection-kit to a FedEx location to have it shipped to a lab. Many other companies have a courier pick it up at the hospital.
I received no compensation or encouragement to write this blog post. However, AlphaCord does offer a “refer-a-friend bonus”. If you are considering banking your newborn’s blood with AlphaCord and are feeling particularly generous, please contact me privately and I can submit your information through the formal referral process. If you have any other questions about the process, I’d be glad to help out as well. Thank you!