Should You Bank Your Cord Blood?

Four years ago, my husband and I learned we were expecting! Finally. After trying for years to conceive, my first thought was, “We are NOT ready for this.” So, like most first time mothers, I started researching. My best friend bought me the book Expecting 411. She warned me that some of the other pregnancy books scared the pants off her citing everything that could go wrong. As a woman who had already reached the dreaded “advanced maternal age”, I didn’t need anything more to worry about.

… No one had asked me about banking my cord blood. People asked how much weight I’d gained, if I would breastfeed, and if I was quitting work. No one held back on asking personal questions, so I wondered why I hadn’t heard more about it.

When I got to the chapter about Parenthood Prep, the first thing they discussed was Cord Blood Banking. This was new to me. I knew about stem cell research, but had never made the differentiation between cord blood stem cells versus embryonic stem cells. And, no one had asked me about banking my cord blood. People asked how much weight I’d gained, if I would breastfeed, and if I was quitting work. No one held back on asking personal questions, so I wondered why I hadn’t heard more about it.

I asked my best friend whose youngest child was three. She said it wasn’t really offered when she was pregnant, but she wished it had been more mainstream then. So I asked my sister-in-law who was pregnant with twins. She said they were planning on doing it and they were using Southern Cord, which was located right here in Huntsville.

Why We Opted to Bank

I started doing research on cord blood treatments. You see, my grandfather died from leukemia. My favorite uncle had Parkinson’s disease. My grandmother and great aunt had MS. My husband’s father was rapidly deteriorating from a rare form of Parkinson’s called Supranuclear Palsy. AND Dave’s cousin had just passed away from ALS. It turns out, ALL of these were listed as either having treatments available or were undergoing research to find a treatment.


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Cord Blood Wester

I learned that you can bank privately for your own family’s use or you can donate to a national cord blood bank. If you bank privately, the cord blood is saved for the donor or a family member. With public banking, the donor can’t necessarily get back the same blood they donated. Plus, we found out later, that it can cost over $30,000 to get any. We chose private banking. After all, the reason we wanted to bank in the first place was because of our family medical history.


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How To Do It

The process was super easy. We spoke with Southern Cord, filled out a lot of paperwork involving medical histories and paid. They gave us a kit to take to the hospital. I put it in my “go” bag and told my doctor in advance that we were banking cord blood. On delivery day, we simply had to provide our kit and remind our doctor/nurses that we were banking. After they prepared the kit, they gave it back to my husband. He called the number on the box and Southern Cord came to Huntsville Hospital to collect it. If you aren’t local, you just drop it in the FedEx box.

Family cord blood

But Isn’t It Expensive?

Cost was a factor for us, so we wanted to be diligent choosing a company. Southern Cord was very cost effective compared to others. Our total was $1750 for the enrollment fee and processing plus $100 a year for storage. You can pay up front, or use a payment plan. I know that it is a large initial expense, but I figured it was a lot less than braces were going to cost and those are mostly cosmetic. All I could imagine was hearing a diagnosis and a doctor asking me, “did you bank his cord blood?” and me saying “no”. We wanted to give him every possible option available. Because, who knows what stem cell treatments will be available 10, 20 or 40 years from now?
Twins


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Two years later, we were expecting again, this time with TWINS! Southern Cord spoke at our Marvelous Multiples class and our first question was, “Is there a discount for twins?” (There is. Plus, the price has gone down.) It never occurred to us not to bank our twins cord blood. In fact, it was so important to our families that our parents offered to help pay for it. It was a little more confusing with having a C-Section and being separated from your husband for recovery, but Dave was diligent getting the kits back and Southern Cord was right there to collect them.

We are blessed with three healthy and beautiful children. And every time I hear of a friend’s child being diagnosed or a news story about a child with a terrible disease, I thank my lucky stars that we heard about Southern Cord and have a potential life saving treatment in storage for our children.


Wester thumbnailABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cindy Wester married Dave Wester seven years ago. Together, they have three children ~ Christopher, 3, and 8 month old twins, Kaitlyn and Vicky. She is a transplant from NJ and currently is between jobs due to a corporate restructure and looking for full time work in Marketing or Public Relations. She used to enjoy traveling, reading & baking and probably will again someday, when free time isn’t used for sleep or laundry.