Before I launch into our story, I feel very inclined to first make it clear that our reasons for not collecting umbilical cord blood have nothing to do with beliefs or non-beliefs. We actually felt pretty ambivalent about the whole idea, but my husband and I DID register to collect and store cord blood during my first pregnancy. I am also NO expert on this matter, but know a bit from when we looked into storing for ourselves. This was 5 years ago and I am sure much has changed in those 5 years, so please inform yourselves if you are considering cord blood banking for your own family!
Umbilical cord blood banking is quite literally taking the blood from your umbilical cord once your baby has been born and then storing it for a fee in a blood bank, with many storage options that your doctor/midwife can tell you more about. While this procedure has the reputation of being ‘controversial’ for some, for others it’s an insurance policy or even a no-ifs-ands-or-buts-about-it decision. Umbilical cord blood is rich in stem cells, which have the potential to save your child’s life (and sometimes even a family member’s life) should they ever (heaven forbid) face a life-threatening disease such as leukaemia, various immune system disorders, inherited metabolic disorders and many more!
Collecting and storing usually costs about $1000 up-front and then there are monthly plans which seem to hover around the $125/month mark. If you don’t want to collect it and save it for yourself, there is always the option of donating it for FREE with Canadian Blood Services.
So, WHY ON EARTH did we NOT collect the cord blood from either of our daughters? It is NOT because we disagree with the process. Here’s the story…
You have to bring your cord blood collection box with you to the hospital or have it on-hand if you have chosen a home birth. Cord blood is collected immediately after the birth of your baby and there’s a small window of opportunity.
We ordered our box online and brought it to the hospital with us for my scheduled c-section. (Both my girls hung out in breech position until the bitter end… one day I’ll talk about c-sections, but not today). 😛
We strolled very casually into the hospital, cord blood box and baby bag in hand. What happened next, nobody could have anticipated, as most birth stories go.
Without going into too much detail… my husband, who was in the waiting room as I was being prepped for surgery, had the box with him. There was some miscommunication in the operating room and the student nurse who had been sent to get my husband did not ‘find him’ in the waiting room (even though he was sitting right where he had been left and told to wait). By the time my husband was ‘found’, the student nurse delivered the frantic message “HURRY! YOU’RE GOING TO MISS THE BIRTH!!” . My husband jumped up out of his chair and left the collection box on the ground beside the waiting room chair.
Brian ran into the operating room with about 1 minute to go before Portia was delivered. We relished in those precious first moments with our baby girl and neither of us even thought about the box. Portia was healthy and we were happy. We have no clue as to what life is going to bring any of of us when it comes to our health. We do not have the reassurance of banked stem cells. Instead, we are banking on research and advancements in the medical world and we are ok with that.