Pregnancy can be an overwhelming time for countless reasons, not the least of which are the expenses associated with prenatal care, and then, of course, the inevitable expenses associated with child rearing.
When I was carrying my daughter, I was quite aware of the costs of both and it often kept me up at night. So when I started receiving literature about banking my baby’s cord blood from my doctor’s office and saw how much it cost, it only added to my sleeplessness. I had no doubt it could be a worthy investment, but it was coming at a time when we were being socked with so many other bills. It took a while to decide, but my husband and I ultimately opted to bank our daughter’s cord blood at birth. And when I come across stories like the one I read this morning, I know we made the right decision.
Baby Harlow was born to Jamie and Ben Page in 2008 and seemed to be healthy for the first couple of weeks. But then she started crying a lot and seemed uncomfortable, and then her condition worsened. At three months old, Harlow’s stomach became distended and her diapers were turning up dry. As it turns out, a grapefruit-sized mass was blocking her kidney.
A biopsy was performed and a pediatric oncologist concluded it resembled a rare brain cancer and that chemotherapy was the best course to take. But the Pages also asked their doctors about a stem cell transplant, and after three rounds of chemo, the tumor had completely disappeared. Shortly thereafter, Harlow received an infusion of her own stem cells, which helped ensure that the aggressive tumor did not return. At that point she was just nine months old.
Almost a year after she was born, Harlow was released from the hospital, and seven months later, she was well enough to start attending day care. She’s now a healthy and happy 3 year old.
Cord blood stem cells that are saved at birth are collected from the baby’s umbilical cord with a syringe and the child doesn’t experience any pain as with bone marrow extractions. The cells are sent to a cord blood bank and can be stored indefinitely.
Once reinfused into the body, cord blood stem cells, which have the advantage of being young and not exposed to chemical or environmental factors, migrate to the injured spot and start the healing process immediately.
The price for banking cord blood varies depending on the company, but the cost can range from $1,800 to around $3,000, plus an annual storage fee. A less expensive option is to donate a newborn’s cord blood to a public bank so it can be used for someone else in need.
While the money can be a tough expense for many, I have to say that reading stories like Harlow’s makes me feel like there is no better investment my family could have made.