How did we decide to save our child’s cord blood?
A testimonial from Rachel Manley, our Fine Arts Partner and artist of BIRTH
It’s all kind of a blur now because once we made the decision to do it, it just seemed like such a natural choice. We never second guessed our decision.
I remember being pregnant and researching the birth process on the Internet. Like so many soon-to-be mothers, I signed up for a variety parenting magazines and websites trying to get prepared for this life-changing moment called “birth.” The cord blood ads started to roll in through my email. Stem cell research was in the news due to the debate in the States over embryonic stem cell research. There was a lot that I didn’t understand, but the debate highlighted the need for stem cells. It was clear that stem cell research held tremendous promise even if the debate seemed misguided on many fronts. I became intrigued and ultimately started to follow some of the links sent to me via email. “Wow,” I thought. “This is the future of modern medicine!” I kept researching.
Out of the blue, I got a message from one of our long-time friends in France. We had just visited her family a few months before. During the visit, she had mentioned that her husband’s brother had recently been diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 36. Leukemia is not just a children’s disease, we were reminded. We were shocked. The prognosis did not look good. Then, there was this message. . . a miracle. Because of the gift of public cord donation, the doctors had been able to locate two cord blood matches from Italy and the US. These were used to treat the disease and her brother-in-law was now on the road to recovery. This story really hit home. Cord blood use was not just science-fiction or some blind hope for the future. It was real and being used now! I realized that it would be a true waste to throw any cord blood away. And yet. . . it was not standard practice to save cord blood at birth.
I was putting the pieces together and I wanted my husband on board with me. I remember him just looking at me with eyebrows raised as he digested all of the information that I was throwing at him. A bit of silence and then. . . yes, it makes sense. Perfect sense. We should do it! It’s like planning for college; you owe it to your child. Ultimately, we concluded in that same conversation that we should do everything possible to insure that our child’s cord blood would be preserved at birth. We felt good. We had just made one of the first major decisions that would potentially have a direct effect on our child’s life. That’s power! Parents don’t often get opportunities like that.
Over the next few days, we started to explain our decision to the soon-to-be grandparents. There were lots of questions and even more amazement. Again, everyone felt very proud because we knew as a family that we would be doing everything in our power to provide the very best for our child. Saving our baby’s cord blood would be just the beginning.
Given our situation (we lived overseas), we chose a hospital in Paris for the birth and a private cord blood bank in Europe with an established reputation. The process was surprisingly easy. We answered a few background questions and verified with the hospital that they would agree to help us collect the cord blood. They very graciously agreed and seemed eager to also be a part of this special request. They prided themselves in being a state-of-the-art facility and so I think they were happy to see young parents doing something constructive with their child’s cord blood rather than just throwing it away. We were fortunate because we could afford to preserve our child’s cord blood privately. However, if that had not been an option, we would have gladly donated our child’s cord blood to a public bank so that it could have potentially saved someone else’s life.
A few weeks before my due date, we received a box in the mail that contained instructions and everything the doctors would need to collect the cord blood. Once collected, all we needed to do was to call the special FedEX number provided specifically for medical transport (yes, FedEx). Our daughter was born near midnight and the courier from FedEX came the next day to pick up the box. Off it went! We got a confirmation about a week later informing us that the cord blood had been received, tested and stored successfully.
That was it! It was such a smooth and natural process. My husband still got to cut the umbilical cord as we had planned and we were totally focused on our new little girl. I would not have even been aware that they had actually collected the cord blood during labor except that when they wheeled me and my newborn baby to our room, there was the box at the foot of my bed. Amazing how that one moment can change everything, isn’t it?
Please, don’t waste your moment. I hope that you choose to save your child’s cord blood. In that brief moment of bringing life into this world, you have the power to save a life. . . your child’s life or even someone else’s. That’s power! Use it!
LEARN MORE ABOUT RACHEL AND HER ART AT WWW.RMANLEY.COM