Keeping cells safe

note: this post is probably more interesting for expectant parents.  Hahahha

There’s so many things the baby books never told you about before you got pregnant.

Besides the usual pregnancy ailments (rashes, heartburn, etc) I’ve had to learn up on so many things!

Breastfeeding was one.  Cord blood banking was another.

I’d never heard about it up to about three months ago.

I was at Naddy’s wedding when Edmund and Liling (another expectant couple) told me they were heading to a baby fair to check stuff out.  They said it would be good to go figure out what we needed to get as well as price estimates for budgeting.  So ok lo we were free so we went!

The baby fair wasn’t very awesome la.  Too many people and too many vendors selling what seemed like useless stuff to me.  Manchester United bibs etc. :X

But we found ourselves glued to the cord blood banking companies’ booths.  We’d never heard of this before!  Actually I did… a blog reader emailed me months ago suggesting I look into cord blood banking.  But I dismissed her email cos at that time, I’d only gotten pregnant, 9 months seemed like a very long time, and uhh I was more interested in other things (eating and trying not to puke chief among them).

Anyway at the baby fair, we decided to sit down and get the facts straight.  It all sounded very scientific and overwhelming and I felt a huge responsibility to make the right decisions when it comes to Fighter.  If it’s for myself I wouldn’t even buy insurance if Fatty didn’t insist on it but having Fighter rely on us completely for his welfare (and everything else) freaked me out.  Hahahha is this what Fatty feels like about me!

Anyway the decision for us was easy.  We’d definitely do cord blood banking; it was only a matter of which provider we went for.

To sum it up for you and to save you the headache, here are the key points I’ve learned over the past couple months.

What is cord blood banking?

Cord blood banking is collecting blood left in your newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta and storing it for future medical use.

Why would you save your baby’s cord blood?

When I was at the baby fair I whatsapped Wendy to ask her this too.  Cord blood contains potentially lifesaving stem cells which can be developed into other types of cells, so they can help repair tissues and organs, and can be used to treat a host of diseases.

Today, cord blood stems cells are used in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases, including some cancers, blood disorders, immune system deficiencies, metabolic disorders and bone marrow failure syndromes. For example, cancers, blood disorders, and immune deficiencies. Among these are leukemia, sickle cell anemia, aplastic anemia, thalassemia, Hodgkin’s disease, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In a cord blood transplant, stem cells are infused in to a patient’s bloodstream where they go to work healing and repairing damaged cells and tissue. When a transplant is successful, a healthy new immune system has been created.

How is cord blood collected?

This one is Fatty’s responsibility!.  The cord blood banking company will provide us a kit which we will have to bring with us to the hospital when I go into labor.  Fatty will probably have to be the one who remembers cos I don’t think I can at that point.

We just have to pass the kit to the doctor.  After I’ve delivered the baby and the cord has been clamped and cut, the doctor inserts a needle into the umbilical vein on the part of the cord that’s still attached to the placenta. The needle doesn’t go anywhere near your baby or you and it’s painless.

The entire process takes less than ten minutes. Then we call the rep to inform them I’ve delivered and they’ll come pick it up and send it back to the cord blood bank, where it’s tested, processed, and frozen for long-term storage.

Based on today’s developments, stem cells can be stored under liquid nitrogen indefinitely.  But for cord blood banking, the stem cells will be stored until the child turns 21.  Then the decision whether to continue storage is left up to child since he’s an adult then.

Who could use your baby’s cord blood?

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Since it’s the baby’s own cells, obviously it’d be a 100% match for him.  Siblings are also supposed to be high compatibility (some sources say 25-75%) but a bit lower for biological parents.

Which company did I choose?

There’s only three private cord blood banking companies in Malaysia doing this and we talked to all of them!  In the end we decided on Cellsafe.  They took the time to come meet me and explain everything so that helped a lot. ^^

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Cellsafe is the only company in Malaysia which employs SEPAX technology, which is a leading technology for cord blood processing.

Cellsafe packages

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They have 3 packages to choose from.  All come with:

  • a cord blood collection kit
  • processing of cord blood
  • maternal & cord blood testing to check for infection to make sure your cord blood is perfectly usable
  • storage of cord blood in 1 freezing bag
  • CellCare & FamilyCare benefits

The differences are, Silver Package only allows you to store for 1 year then you can choose to upgrade to Platinum or Diamond.  Platinum and Diamond store for 21 years.  Diamond is for the most kiasu because your cord blood gets stored in TWO locations, which means you need to collect at least 80ml of cord blood.

I also asked what would happen if say for some reason we need to use the cord blood in future but it gets contaminated and thus unusable.  Cellsafe has said they will compensate up to RM100K if the blood is not viable at time of transplant.

There’s also a coverage of up to RM100K depending on situation on transplant expenses involving the stem cells.  And if either parent passes away before 21 years is up (CHOI), Cellsafe will waive the remaining storage fee to protect baby’s welfare. :)

If you would like to find out more about cord blood banking and Cellsafe, this is their website.  Facebook page is here.

Or you can call their hotline to speak to a consultant, 1300 88 2355 (1300 88 CELL).

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Someone I talked to told me that they didn’t find cord blood banking necessary.  I admit that it’s still a relatively new development (although loads of people overseas have done it) but I guess I see it as a form of insurance for Fighter’s future?

There’s always gonna be new medical developments — more uses to be found for cord blood stem cells for example — so we’re taking it as a form of insurance for our future family.  Nobody wishes for a time when they need to claim insurance and it’s the same for this I think.

I certainly hope we won’t come to a time where we will actually need to use Fighter’s cord blood but if we do, then I’ll be very glad we have it available. :)

 

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