Readers Weigh In

Fellow parents tell about how they came to their decisions.

Why They Did

Here's what our readers had to say on banking cord blood:

Reader One: "We decided to bank the cord blood. Our child is of a mixed race (Caucasian and Chinese) which would make finding a match more difficult if the need arose. With all the advancements in the medical community going on right now, I feel that although our ability to effectively use the banked blood right now may be limited, each month I hear about other medical advancements that give me more confidence that we did the right thing.

"Parents will take out a life insurance policy on their child, spending as much as the cord blood banking costs, and not think anything of it. Banking the cord blood is just another type of insurance policy, but one that you will not have to wait until your child dies to collect -- this is one that may help your child live. The $2,000 for the collection and 18 years of storage was well worth that extra peace of mind.

"If we have another child, I will not hesitate to do this again."

Reader Two: "Cryo-Cell only charges about $200 to bank it, plus shipping, plus $50 per year to store it. In my mind, this was not much money, compared to everything else I was already spending, for the possibility that it could someday save my child's life, no matter how small the chances. What if I did not bank it and then needed it someday? How much would I regret not banking it in that situation? Cryo-Cell only needed $50 down, plus shipping at the birth, and I could pay the remaining balance later. Of course, shipping is much higher on weekends, which is when my son was born.

"I will say, though, that the actual packaging of the blood after the birth was very complicated. There are packets of info for everyone, and lots of little jobs. My doctor missed my birth because he was at a memorial service for his wife's brother who died in the World Trade Center attack, so his partner had filled in. She collected the blood and then took off. The shift nurse also left. That left me and my doula (thank God I had her there) to package and ship it after being up all night with the birth. It took us about four hours to get everything done because we were so exhausted. I would recommend reading all materials, even those destined for others (doctors, nurses), beforehand. And reviewing everything that needs to be done with your doctor. And assigning the process to a friend who will be there after delivery. My baby was early so I had not had time to review everything and assign tasks."

Reader Three: "We plan on banking our baby's umbilical cord. We decided to do so after our ob-gyn recommended we look into it. She made the suggestion for a few reasons -- our baby was conceived through in vitro fertilization and we really don't know if we'll be having any other children in the future (I am 27 and my husband is 26). Also, because I am of Mediterranean descent and my husband is Chinese, it would be more difficult to find a donor match (if necessary) than if we were the same race. Therefore, we decided it would be worth it to do so. We went with Viacord -- they are not the cheapest by any means -- but they had the best customer service around. We are very happy with our decision and look forward to our baby's birth in two weeks!"

Reader Four: "We did bank our son's cord blood because we found a company that only cost a few hundred dollars and we felt that if we did it, we would probably never use it. But if we didn't, then we would need it someday. Just a layer of insurance."

Reader Five: "I chose to bank our daughter Clarice's cord blood primarily due to our family history of disease. Once we enrolled, we found out that we couldn't have chosen a better thing to do, since I developed a blood disorder which can be passed from a mother to her child in utero. Fortunately, at this time she shows no sign of this disorder, but it is reassuring to know the stem cells are available if medical science research finds a way to use them to treat this condition.

"We feel we have given our daughter at least one step ahead in any future obstacles she may encounter by banking her cord blood."

Reader Six: "When I learned that I was pregnant, I immediately began researching cord blood storage companies -- I knew that I would never forgive myself if my older son (he'll be 5 in July) were to relapse and the precious cells which could possibly be used to save his life were not available.

"Had my son not been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in October 1999, and/or I had not miscarried during my second pregnancy, I do not know if I would have chosen to store my daughter's cord blood. When your child is being treated for cancer, you witness the ups and downs of modern medicine. Unfortunately some of my son's friends from the hospital haven't been as lucky -- chemo doesn't work, bone marrow matches for a transplant cannot be found, or secondary complications arise. Taking these factors into consideration, the $95 annual storage fee is the best insurance for my son's future at this time.

"How long we will store these cells remains unanswered. At some point, my family will probably get HLA testing done to see how close of a match to my son we are, something we have not needed to do since he continues to respond to his chemotherapy treatment."

Reader Seven: "My husband and I decided to bank our baby's umbilical cord blood. We did so because I was adopted and don't know my family history. I pray that we never have to use it, but it puts our minds a little at ease knowing we have access to it. My ob-gyn also said he thought it was a good idea, and the nurse practitioner at his office had a baby three weeks before me and she did it."

Reader Eight: "We chose to bank the cord blood of both of our children. We have two boys under 2 years old. We do not have a lot of money, but could not pass up the opportunity to be better prepared if (God forbid) one of our children were to be stricken by disease at an early age. There is still a lot of controversy over the storage of cord blood, but if by some miracle it does work, we couldn't afford to be without it."

Reader Nine: "I saved my daughter's cord and stem cells. This technology is the wave of the future. I think that it is comforting to know that if my daughter needed a bone marrow transfusion, that her own cells will be available to her."

Reader Ten: "We banked our baby Kelly's blood because she has one older sister, eight (blood) aunts and uncles, and 19 first cousins. We thought with so many relatives, her blood may come in handy someday."

Why They Didn't

Reader One: "My husband and I chose not to store our babies' cord blood (we have twins) for two reasons: 1) Our twins are identical -- if ever one needs something, the other can help; and 2) Banking cord blood is too expensive."

Reader Two: "I decided not to bank my baby's umbilical cord because it was too expense, but I was seriously considering it."

Reader Three: "I seriously considered and did quite a bit of research on banking, but when I asked my ob-gyn and she said it was a money-making scam unless we had a history of stem-cell disease in our immediate family, I decided against it. She was right on the money with all the other answers she gave us, so I believed her on this. In the end, do what you feel is best. A mom knows."

Reader Four: "I think it's a really good idea to bank the umbilical cord blood -- if you can afford it. It's just not a reasonable cost for the average person. The cost is astronomical! I just couldn't do it."

Reader Five: "It sounded like a great idea, but it was way too expensive for our meager budget to afford up front. Plus there are continued storing costs."

Reader Six: "No, I did not bank the cord blood. I donated it to the San Diego Blood Bank. They use it to help save lots of kids every year. Hopefully if any of my children ever need it, someone else's donation will save them."

Reader Seven: "We did not bank the cord blood. I asked my ob-gyn about some information that was in his waiting room. He said it was a scam, there wasn't much they could do with it yet, it was expensive, and just played on our emotions. I also asked someone from the Diabetes Association if they could use donations of cord blood for research (islet cell therapy research) but was told that the cells they needed were not in cord blood."

Reader Eight: "We decided against keeping the cord blood for our son because our doctor explained that if our son had a disease, the cord blood would have the same disease. The maintenance expense was really too high for us at this time. We decided to try and donate the cord blood since everybody kept saying how valuable it was. Nobody knew where I could donate. The blood centers, hospital, and doctors were clueless. We thought maybe we'd be able to preserve a life. There needs to be more information regarding cord blood storage and/or donation."

Reader Nine: "I did not because it was way out of my budget given the statistical risk of my child needing it. Sad, but those are the kind of decisions we have to make. Besides, I was put off by the cord bank people who seemed to really use scare tactics to sell their services. I tried to donate it but was told by our local bank that they weren't taking any more donations."

Reader Ten: "I did not personally save my child's cord blood (could not afford the cost of storage). I was not going to have any more children after this one anyway. I did, however, donate the cord blood to a local children's hospital so that another child could benefit. I might have considered banking it personally if I could afford it because I know that there could always be a need for the stem cells in the future for my children."

Reader Eleven: "We carefully considered this option. Although a little expensive, it would be a bargain if you ever needed it. All the information I could get from doctors, magazine articles, and the media was that it might prove beneficial to have the cord blood in the future if a close family member were to get leukemia. Since I saw that as a remote chance and there were no other know applications for the cord blood, we decided not to store it. If we were a family of mixed race, we might have decided differently."

Reader Twelve: "I didn't store the blood because I didn't know anything about it. I would have, had I known. I wish my doctor would had something -- it could've really made a difference."

Reader Thirteen: "My husband and I decided not to bank our baby's umbilical cord blood, but rather to let our newborn use it right away. We delayed the clamping of her umbilical cord so that she could receive her cord blood during the natural transfer that occurs after birth. We felt that doing anything else would deny our baby of her own very vital and personal blood supply, and start her off on the wrong foot."

Reader Fourteen: "I decided not to store my baby's umbilical cord blood because after talking with my doctor, we felt some of the companies are just out to get money. I work in the biotech industry and went to school for pre-med and am pretty informed about medical treatments, etc. However, I was interested in donating my baby's cord blood for someone who needed it now instead of in the future. But as far as my doctor and I are aware, this option doesn't exist.

"I do believe in cord blood work. It is a great thing and I would encourage people to consider it. I just didn't want to this time around. If there were a bank for people to donate to, then people wouldn't have to always keep their own because there would be a supply (like regular blood donations)."

Reader Fifteen: "Cord blood theory is great, but at this time it is unaffordable -- and we have a good annual income -- six digits!"

Reader Sixteen: "We decided against it because not only is it expensive, but the chances it can be used by the child are near nothing, or that a sibling can use it are really slim -- and they don't tell you that. These are companies playing to parents' worst fears. It costs a few thousand dollars over the years to do this. We learned that there are places you can donate it to that can actually utilize it, at no cost to you."

Reader Seventeen: "I decided to not bank my child's umbilical cord remains due to security reasons. Since this whole industry is new, I do not feel confident paying someone to 'store' my child's umbilical cord. If a desperate couple came looking for a certain gene or something that can be drawn from my child's umbilical cord, how do I know the storage facility will not sell it to the highest bidder? Also, what about cloning? How can I be sure that someone wouldn't swipe some of my child's DNA to do some secret scientific research?

"I do not trust society with this controversial matter just yet. I do not feel the proper laws have been put into place to protect those who do choose to store umbilical cord remains."

Reader Eighteen: "We decided the money it would cost had such a statistically low chance of ever actually being used, that it would not be worth it. We decided not to let negative thinking ruin us. It worked fine because our baby was healthy, but I still wonder if something had happened, would we have regretted not banking cord blood?"

Reader Nineteen: "We decided to donate it! Hopefully it can help someone. It seemed a shame to waste, and donation was free! I figured it was the right thing to do. Hopefully, someone can benefit."

Reader Twenty: "I looked into saving my baby's umbilical cord at birth, but found it to be quite spendy. If it had been more affordable, I would have probably done it. Also, if our families had a bad medical history or if previous siblings were having problems, then I would have been more inclined to do it."

Reader Twenty-One: "My husband and I did not even think about it at the time. A month or so after, we wondered why the hospital didn't mention it."

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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