Originally posted on August 10, 2012.
(I know there is an on-going controversy regarding Stem Cell, but this article is not about that…)
Have you watched My Sister’s Keeper? The movie is based on a book written by Jodi Picoult. It’s about a kid named Kate Fitzgerald diagnosed with promyelocytic leukaemia. Despite chemotherapy, her leukaemia continued to recur. She needed a bone marrow transplant, but her parents (mom played by Cameron Diaz) and her brother, Jesse, are not compatible. Kate’s parents then decided to have another child through in vitro fertilization to ensure that the offspring, Anna, is a 100% match for Kate. Anna became Kate’s donor over the next 11 years, painfully donating blood and bone marrow, all without her permission. Anna then filed a case for medical emancipation with the assistance of a lawyer (played by Alec Baldwin). During the hearing, Kate’s parents learned that Anna’s actions were all under Kate’s instruction since Kate did not want to live any longer. Before the case was decided, Kate died while sleeping at the hospital with her mother by her side. After Kate’s death, Anna won the case.
The story posed certain moral, ethical and legal issues, particularly on stem cells research.
What are stem cells? Stem cells can develop into any cell type. Stem cells are the basic building blocks of body tissues, and have the capability to help build new tissues and repair damaged ones. For instance, neural cells in the brain and spinal cord that have been damaged can be replaced by stem cells. Dead cells of almost any kind, can be replaced with new healthy cells through stem cells.
There are three main sources for obtaining stem cells – adult cells, cord cells, and embryonic cells. Adult stem cells can be extracted either from bone marrow or from the peripheral system. Bone marrow is a rich source of stem cells. However, this is painful and can cause destruction of the bones. Peripheral stem cells can be extracted without damage to bones, but the process takes more time. On the other hand, stem cells from embryonic cells pose certain moral issues which are related to cloning and destruction of the embryo.
Unlike stem cells extraction from bone marrows, extraction of stem cells from the cord blood is painless and risk-free. It is taken from the umbilical cord only after the cord is cut.
When I was around 6 months pregnant, our doctor introduced us to CordLife Blood Bank. She said it may help us in the future. At first, I was not interested since I have read about it and I know it’s expensive. But then again, I thought what if my baby gets sick in the future and she can be cured through stem cell therapy? I will certainly regret not taking the opportunity to save her life as early as now. So, we met with a Cord Life representative, who explained to us the benefits of cord blood banking.
Below are some diseases that have been treated with cord blood:
- Acute Myelogenous Leukaemia, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, Chronic Myelogenous Leukaemia, Histiocytic Neoplasms, Other Myeloproliferative Neoplasms, Myelodysplastic syndrome,Multiple Myeloma
- Hodgkin Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Langerhans’ Cell Histiocytosis, Neuroblastoma, Retinoblastoma
NON-MALIGNANT BLOOD DISORDERS
- Aplastic Anaemia, Chediak-Higashi Syndrome, Congenital Dyserythropoietic Anaemia, Diamond-Blackfan Syndrome, DiGeorge Syndrome, Evans Syndrome, Fanconi’s Anaemia, Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia, Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency, Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria, Pure Red Cell Aplasia, Sickle Cell Anaemia, Thalassemia Major, Hereditary BM failure syndromes
- Chronic Granulomatous Disease , Common Variable Immunodeficiency, Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID) , Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome
- Adrenoleukodystrophy, Gaucher’s Disease, Hurler Syndrome, Krabbe Disease, Metachromatic leukodystrophy, Osteopetrosis, Wolman Disease
Cord blood can replace and regenerate damaged or diseased bone marrow, treat blood cancers, correct genetic defects and it has a high potential for cellular therapy and regenerative medicine. Our doctor said that there are many Filipino doctors who are knowledgeable on stem cell treatment. Thus, if the need arises in the future, we do not need to worry that there is scarcity of doctors who know how to use cord blood stem cells.
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Also, unlike other companies whose storage facilities are in Singapore, we learned that the cord blood may be stored by CordLife here in the Philippines at U.P. – Ayala Land TechnoHub, Commonwealth Ave., Diliman, Quezon City. So, no more worries that the cord blood might be contaminated during air transfer. You can learn how CordLife stores cord blood here.
Here are some reasons why you should consider banking cord blood:
- Some of the most common cancers, such as leukaemia and lymphoma, are treatable with stem cell transplant. In the Philippines, leukaemia is one of the top 10 cancers for both men and women; and for men, lymphoma is also in the top 10. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) is the most common type of leukaemia in children, with 79% of childhood ALL occurring between the ages 1-9 years.
- A guaranteed match for autologous transplants (where the donor and recipient are the same individual).
- Umbilical cord blood stem cells are younger, have a higher rate of engraftment and are more tolerant to tissue mismatches, compared to other types of stem cells, e.g. bone marrow.
- Ease of collection, which is pain-free and risk-free to both mother and child.
- It is once-in-a-lifetime chance to collect cord blood – a readily available source when needed in the future.
Surprisingly, CordLife’s program is very affordable. Trust me… my husband is Mr. Minimalist! Our initial payment is around P60,000 only and a yearly payment of P8,000.00. CordLife has different payment schemes which you can choose from.
Being a professional contract reviewer, I carefully read the terms of the program and I believe that we are legally protected in case something happens to my baby’s cord blood while stored in CordLife’s facilities.
I also believe that cord blood banking is better than a regular insurance policy. Cord blood banking can give you and your child another chance in life. You can save your kids’ life as early as now.
For inquiries, click here.