Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Banking on baby

…HA was going to write about how some people use aspartame (Nutrasweet) to kill ants (people put this stuff in coffee).

…But in that whimsical way of hers, HA decided to write about banking your baby’s cord blood instead.

…With all the super-heated rhetoric about stem cells, it hasn’t been mentioned much that you can capture and freeze your baby’s umbilical cord blood in case a compatible member of your family needs some stem cells at some point.

…Yes, it’s a little like harvesting a spare part for future use. But to some parents it makes good sense. Like the in vitro embryos, this resource would otherwise be discarded.

…Not all hospitals will gather this blood for you. It takes special training. You need to call ahead to inquire. Make these arrangements in the second trimester.

…There are many outfits that will freeze the blood and keep it for you. The BabyCenter.com, in a story by Suzanne Leigh, says the cord blood bank needn’t be physically nearby. A medical courier and pick up the blood and, heaven forbid, should it be needed, bring it back to you.

…Make sure the bank is registered with the FDA and accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks.

…Best case, the cord blood bank is subcontracting actual storage to a regular blood bank.

…The blood should be stored in small batches, with a minimum amount of handling after retrieval.

…See how experienced the bank is. Beware if they have a lot of blood but have never used it for transplants. This could mean transplant surgeons have rejected it.

…Make sure the bank is fiscally sound and not about to go belly up.

…This ain’t cheap. Figure $600 to $2,000 to harvest the blood and $80 to $100 a year to keep it on ice (well, liquid nitrogen).

…If a bank offers a discount for a 20-year contract, remember, the stem cells may not be viable past 15 years.

…Like most insurance, banking cord blood amounts to betting against yourself. But we are used to that by now, right—paying for things we hope to never use?

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