Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cord Blood Banking

I was initially skeptical of banking my newborn's cord blood - mostly due to its high costs and also its uses.

I asked around a few mothers/fathers on their decisions on why they chose to/chose not to do so - and I got many feedback.
I also read up on cord blood banking and its history, testimonials, its uses, etc.

Some says that it is not worth it of the many 'unknowns'. But some sees it in another perspective. Because of all these 'unknowns', there are future potentials.
We are in such a high-tech era and I believe many R&D is in place and future uses will be more and more in years to come.

Anyway, all in all, it is still a matter on what you believe in.
However, the decision to whether to bank in or not is once in a lifetime - during your newborns' birth.

Next is to choose between the 4 private companies available in Malaysia. StemLife, Cryocord, CellSafe & StemTech.

After much consideration, darlin' and I decided to choose StemLife...mainly because of the company's stability as it is a public-listed company in Malaysia.
Company's stability to us is very important because we cannot afford to have the company go bankrupt.

Anyway, we paid RM2500 for the enrollment fee including 1 year storage fee. From the 2nd year onwards, it is RM290 yearly for the storage fee. Pretty expensive...i know!

To us, this is another form of insurance for Little Angel.


Soo Huey said...

is it too late to pull back? why didnt you consult me? i would have told you its bullshit and just a great big scheme to bluff your money!

Tan Shu-Yin said...

bshin told me it is good wor.
and also got cases in malaysia ppl uses stemcell to cure diseases.

Soo Huey said...

I would suggest you ask BShin whether she only “thinks”/believes/feels it is good, or has she actually checked her facts.

I would also check if the people in Malaysia who supposedly received treatment using stem cells used stem cells from their own cord blood?! Actually, I’ll tell you the answer in #6 below.

Please know:

1. There are many sources of stem cells (SC), including embryo, cord blood (CB), bone marrow and blood.

2. There is a difference between receiving SC from yourself and from others.

3. For majority of diseases where SC are used for treatment, it is preferred or even only appropriated if the SC is from SOMEONE ELSE.

4. Only in very limited cases is it recommended to use SC from yourself. In all these cases, SC may be acquired from your bone marrow or made from your blood. There is no need for CB to be stored. It would have to be an extremely unique case if your only and best option is to use your own SC, because often there are better more preferred treatment options.

5. Businesses that offer SC storage DO NOT DIFFERENTIATE treatment using your own SC and using other people’s SC in their marketing material. This means almost all the “successes” or uses of SC that they publicise is from cases of people using someone else’s SC and not their own.

6. In 43 countries from 1988-2007, out of 3372 cases of transplants using CBSC, 2965 were from donors unrelated/non-family to the patient, 359 were from family members, and ONLY THREE (3) used their own stored CB.  So I don’t think the Malaysians you mentioned used their own CB!

7. Increasingly many countries have their own National Marrow Donor Program or National Cord Blood Bank where parents can donate cord blood (service and collection is free) for use by anyone suitable from the public to use. There is now also a worldwide registry, information on marrow or CB available in the different countries can be matched with needs worldwide. This is how people get SC from unrelated/non-family.

8. Since national and international registries are available and it is usually better to use SC not from yourself or if you need your own it is available from your bone marrow or blood, why should you pay to store your CB??

9. There is currently no ability and it is unlikely that there will be in the next 20yrs for CBSC to be used to make structural and supporting tissues such as muscle, bone and other soft tissue. The reason is because to make these, you need a special type of SC called mesenchymal, which is only present in very low amount in CB and not enough for use. If this technology is ever widely used in the near future (unlikely), the bone marrow or embryos would be better source of mesenchymal.

10. There is no point storing CBSC for gene therapy of cancer or genetic disorders because there is zero advantage and no difference between using CBSC and adult SC.

1. ASBMT Committee (2008) “Collection and Preservation of Cord Blood for Personal Use”, Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Vol 14, pp 356-363.
2. MJ Sullivan (2008) “Banking on Cord Blood Stem Cells”, Nature Reviews Cancer, Vol 8, pp 554-563.

Soo Huey said...

11. Recommendations by various bodies:

American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation
“the uses of CB stored in public banks are likely to increase in future years; expanded use of CB stored for personal or family use is also possible. For the foreseeable future, however, the likely use of privately stored CB is exceedingly small. Therefore, we recommend priority to public donation of CB whenever possible.

The likelihood of use of an autologous (your own) CB … range from 0.04% to 0.0005%... about the same chance as maternal death during childbirth”

American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) & American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- Both medical associations strongly encourage parents to donate their children’s CB to public banks if those opportunities are available in the geographic area. They also encourage parents to consider directed donor storage if there is a first degree relative (parents or siblings) with a disease or disorder that is known to be treatable by CB transplant.
- Both discourage parents from purchasing private storage for CB as “biological insurance”. They express serious concerns about the tactics that some banks use to market private storage to expectant parents who have relatively short time to investigate the issues and make an informed decision.
- AAP recommends that if a doctor or nurse is compensated in any way to counsel or recruit parents to privately bank CB, that fact should be disclosed to the parent.

European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies
“The possibility of using one’s own cord blood stem cells for regenerative medicine is currently purely hypothetic. Research in this field is only at a very early stage … the legitimacy of commercial CB banks for self use should be questioned as they sell a service that has presently no real use regarding therapeutic options”.

Soo Huey said...

I know this is a lot to digest, but I felt I had to actually give you info (I spent the whole night preparing this!!) instead of simply bluffing you like many people must have... why else would you want to giveaway RM6,560 for no good reason?!

RM6,560 is assuming that there won't be increase in annual fees along the way and that you store them until your son is 15yrs only. RM8,010 if you store until he is 20 yrs old.

*I can't tell you not to go ahead with it because there is the 0.0005% chance that your son may need it... But please know your facts, untwisted, non-misleading.

Happy to discuss further whenever you like (except Thurs night).

Soo Huey said...

Btw, to address some of the points you brought up in your post...

R&D. Actually, R&D relating to SC is very highly regulated and is not that advance as you might expect because of the restrictions put on SC research. Yes, there is potential but instead of bringing future uses for CBSC, it is more likely that R&D will make the use of your own CBSC completely unnecessary.

"Once in a lifetime opportunity" -This is commonly said to make parents more 'kin cheong' (panic) to agree to bank. It is like saying "Sales! While stocks last!", so you end up buying something you don't need.

If it is too late to pull out.... just keep it in case any of your other children need it, I guess. Then your eldest son can give his CB to his lil bro/sis. But future don't buy anymore! One enough for the family!

Tan Shu-Yin said...

shuey..thanks for ur feedback.
appreciate your whole night of hard work! :)

Elly Leong said...

Walaueh...what a long comment but I appreciate it too Soo Huey.

DR KK Ng ask me not to involve as like you mentinoed and that why I never thought of investing.

Shu, you should really reconsider this. Anyway, it's up to you and Peter. Next time if any thing to do with human cell or biological thing, first person I need to ask is Dato Yap.

Soo Huey said...

Thanks, Elly.

But since when become Dato pulak?! lol