August 1, 2014

Why We'll Bank Cord Blood & Cord Tissue for Baby #2

I'm so excited to work in partnership with Cryo-Cell to bank our baby's cells and tell our story and why we're banking cord blood and cord tissue for our new baby.  

Are you thinking about cord blood and cord tissue banking?  It's definitely been on my mind throughout this pregnancy, but it's easy to get sidetracked with older siblings, baby gear hoarding, working, growing a tiny human and all of those other things that seem to dominate your day.  BUT before you're like me - very pregnant and thinking "hmmmm, what did I forget?" you'll probably want to do a little research and make some decisions because cord blood, cord tissue and what can be done with it has definitely come a long way since our last child was born. 

CryoCell, cord blood banking, cord tissue banking, why bank cord tissue

About four years ago Craig's father was diagnosed with MDS.  After many years of working hard he had just retired and was ready to live the good life he had carefully saved and planned for.  And then this.  We quickly learned that the only actual cure for MDS is via either a bone marrow transplant or a cord blood transplant.  At 68 years old and quickly approaching the cutoff for a transplant (age 70) our family was fairly desperate to find a match.  Which we did.  Supposedly a very good one, from an unrelated donor since there was no match within the family.  We were elated.

What I didn't know then that I know now is that a very large percentage (about 60-80%) of transplants from a non-familial match result in Graft Versus Host Disease.  Basically the transplanted cells wind up battling the recipient cells and it can be fatal.  Which it was.  They were the saddest weeks of my life, watching a man I had come to love and respect like another parent.  Watching my husband lose his father and my mother in law lose a loving husband was devastating.  Hearing 2 year old Kayla ask "where's Poppa?" was heartbreaking.

My takeaway from this was that I would hope and pray that if we ever had a child with a disease that left them in need of a match that we would have the option of a potential familial match.  Siblings have about a 25-50% chance of being a match for one another.  Maybe my parents weren't so totally bonkers having 4 kids after all...

During my trip to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital last November I got a little sneak peek at some of the revolutionary research they are doing to forward a mission everyone can get behind - help more sick kids and find more cures.  Stem cells were very much a part of this.  I won't get all medical journal on you, but at this point we can't deny that leaps and bounds are being made in what can be done with them.

Shortly after my St. Jude trip, Craig and I did the unthinkable.  We decided to shelve our many fears related to having the second child we both always imagined having and a few months later an ultrasound revealed what appeared to be a healthy, growing baby boy.  A second chance at parenthood.  A buddy for Kayla.  The little piece of my heart that always seemed to be missing no matter how much I wanted it to feel complete.

And then time flew.  Funny how that happens.  Especially when you're already chasing a child.  And working a bazillion hours.  Suddenly we were well into the third trimester with a retiring pediatrician and not many decisions made beyond where I would deliver.

With a good recommendation I felt lucky to find a new pediatrician in time for Kayla to start kindergarten and of course before all of those new well baby checkups.  Then there was the endless, yet fun job of debating baby gear and nursery assembly.  Guess who gave everything away after figuring we weren't having more kids?

Which left us back at the big question, cord blood.  Since Kayla's days cord tissue had made an appearance on the list of options to bank, adding to our confusion.  Should you bank both? How do you compare banks?  We all know it isn't cheap, but can it be affordable?

CryoCell, cord blood banking, cord tissue banking, why bank cord tissue

I used the Parent's Guide to Cord Blood to educate myself a bit more and compare banks.  You get a great deal of information beyond just fees and payment plans.   I was able to see everything from how the bank transports your cells to what types of containers and anti-coagulants they use to the number of units released for transplants and therapy and what kind of guarantees they provide with regards to cells engrafting.

Ultimately, our decision was to bank with Cryo-Cell.  I like that they use CPD, which is FDA approved as their anticoagulant in the collection process versus some banks that actually use heparin which is not currently FDA approved for this use.  The guarantees they provide related to storage and use of the collected cells seem to be some of the highest out there.  Did you know you can even choose to start a baby registry with them?

In the next few weeks I'll share with you some really interesting things I learned about the cord blood and cord tissue banking process and share our experience using Cryo-Cell's collection kit.
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