Intended parents have plenty of things to think about before, during, and after surrogacy. If you’re a first-time parent, you have the responsibility of organizing a whole new lifestyle to match your new parenthood. Decisions need to be made concerning your work-life balance, finances, childcare, health, and nearly everything else. Being a parent permeates into every aspect of your life. Before receiving the gift of your child, you may also consider one more decision: whether or not to bank your baby’s cord blood.
What is Cord Blood?
Cord blood refers to the blood found in the umbilical cord and placenta after childbirth. It has historically been considered waste to discard, but research has developed to show that this blood contains important stem cells that have proven themselves useful in various health treatments. Stem cells are unique because they are essentially the body’s building blocks; these are the only cells in the human body that have the ability to regenerate more cells with specialized functions. For instance, stem cells can turn into blood, brain, heart muscle, or bone cells. This makes them wildly valuable in the medical field for various reasons, but perhaps most importantly regenerative medicine, which is the process of replacing diseased cells with healthy cells. Conditions that can be treated with cord blood and stem cell therapies include Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, spinal cord injuries, blood disorders and various forms of cancer including leukemia.
Pros of Banking Cord Blood
Banking your child’s cord blood can be a unique insurance policy for the future. By saving these valuable stem cells, you may be ensuring treatment for your child if they one day contract an illness or condition that stem cell therapies can treat. If not for your child, the blood may be a good match for another family member or relative. This is especially important to consider if there are known health conditions in the family.
Cord blood stem cells are also often a better option for medical treatments than bone marrow, another option often used in stem cell therapies. Because cord blood cells are less mature, the body is more likely to accept them without risk of rejection. The process of collecting cord blood is also much simpler than bone marrow donations and pain-free at that.
A public cord blood bank could save your child’s life or someone else’s. If a child has a health condition that requires stem cell therapy, his or her own stem cells may not do any good because they already have the same genetic makeup as the cells that exist with the condition. If this is the case, your public bank donation means that your child’s cord blood is still available for the public. You may be potentially saving another person’s life.
Cons of Banking Cord Blood
Though there are clearly many important uses for cord blood, there are several cons to banking. The biggest may be the cost. Private cord blood banks often charge $1,000 – $2,000 to save your child’s cord blood at birth. This goes hand in hand with an annual storage fee. For many people, experts agree that this cost is too extravagant when compared with the chances that the cord blood will actually be used down the line. It can be an extremely expensive insurance policy.
There is also the fact that cells from stored cord blood don’t last forever. Experts agree that they are usually viable for 10 years, but beyond that it’s hard to say how effective any treatment with these cells may be. To invest a large sum of money into an insurance policy that can’t guarantee effectiveness can be a big risk.
Simply finding available blood banks can also be a challenge. Because private banking is so expensive, many choose to go the public route. However, it’s highly likely that you’ll find yourself in an area with no access to a public cord blood bank. Not all hospitals participate in these donations.
Make an Informed Decision About Banking Cord Blood After Surrogacy
No matter what you decide to do, be sure that you take the time to make an informed decision. Just as you did throughout the surrogacy process, make sure to ask plenty of questions. It may be a good idea to reach out to other parents, especially those that have used surrogacy, and hear their reasoning to bank or not. Get as many differing points of view as you can to make the most educated decision. Finally, trust your intuition. As a new parent, you have the right to make the best decisions for your family regardless of other’s opinions. For more information and answers to other questions about surrogacy and intended parenthood, head to the SPS website or contact (949) 397-2920.