Why More Moms Are Choosing to Save Stem Cells
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How Is It Done?
The actual procedure is painless and cells can be collected through amniocentesis or from the umbilical cord at the time of delivery. Lynda Calderon, mom to 16-month-old Jordan, said the collection process was very simple. "We researched two facilities, Viacord and Cord Blood Registry (CBR), both of which were highly recommended and offered the same services. We chose Viacord, mainly because it was cheaper and they offered various payment plans. I contacted Viacord, they sent me the information, then the collection kit, which I had to bring to the hospital when I was in labor. I told my doctor ahead of time that we were collecting the cord blood so that he was aware." Calderon gave birth at Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island, and upon beginning labor, notified nurses as well about the kit. "Once my son was born, the doctor extracted the cells from the umbilical cord. He completed the kit, and gave it to us. My husband called Viacord and they picked it up within hours. About two weeks later, I received a letter detailing the amount of cells that were extracted and stored."
Cells can be stored for decades. Biocell's typical contract is for 19 years, and at the end of that period, the baby becomes a consenting adult who can make a decision about further storage.
What Does It Cost?
Cost may be the only obstacle in having stem cells collected and stored. Collection runs anywhere from $1600-$2000 and the storage fee averages about $125 per year. "Cost is the major hurdle; most average families cannot afford it at the present time. As continuing research is done and (hopefully) stem cells are seen to be useful in more and more diseases and conditions, this cost-benefit ratio may decrease," explains Dr. Smith. "Perhaps insurance companies may one day cover a portion of the cost. If the overall cost goes down I think cord blood banking may become more common."
Aside from price, there is really no downside to banking stem cells. Moms Calderon and Goldberg agree, and both say they would do it again. Dr. Smith says, "We hope to never have to use the stem cells, but if there is even a small chance they may save a child's life, or a sibling's life, I think most parents would do it."