Stem Cell Banking

‘I banked my baby’s stem cells’ I say to a group of ladies. They stare at me completely blank and move the conversation to breast feeding, or school fees or buying shoes.Stem cell possibilities I try and repeat what I have just said, but my sound has been drowned out by the oohs and aahs of my friends talking about other, obviously, more interesting topics.But why is this? When I was being told about the benefits of banking your baby’s stem cells I was floored. But before I actually gave it a chance to be heard, I was like my fellow ladies, wanting to talk about something I could relate to.

I had heard about it when pregnant with Ariyana and I had looked at the flier, and quickly put it down because, I thought to myself, this is for the very elite. Only Hollywood’s finest can afford this nonsense! So why were they marketing it in Africa? I as a result didn’t bank Ariyana’s stem cells and I will forever be annoyed with myself for that!When I was pregnant with Arian, I was almost stalked by the representative of Netcells in Kenya. I say stalked with my tongue in cheek .I met her at a supermarket and she gave me her business card. I thought to myself, this woman must think I am loaded for her to even hand me this card. I misplaced her card but I mentioned it in passing to my husband. He asked, what every husband asks (probably on a daily basis but about other things) – what is the cost? I looked at him and shook my head and said ‘I have no idea’. ‘Find out’, he replied. ‘It is better to know all the information before we push it aside.’

No chance of that happening as I had lost her card right? And I probably will not see her again as I am due in a couple of weeks….. these were my thoughts. I therefore discarded the idea of stem cell banking there and then. But I felt foolish for having not asked that one important question. I was seeing my gynecologist for the last time before I delivered my baby and as luck would have it, I bumped into Salina once again. Salina is the representative of Netcells in Kenya. I believe in the law of attraction and if something is meant to be, it is meant to be. I told her I lost her card, so she handed it over to me again, this time with a brochure with more information about NetCells and stem cell banking.I did not have time to think about it so I called her that afternoon.I was still convinced that there was no way I could afford this, but I had to at least give Raj all the details when he asked. ‘How much does it cost, Salina?’ I asked. When she told me I was shocked. We spend more on holidays and medical insurance.Salina then went on to tell me why she became the representative of Netcells and why this, more than anything, is a personal journey for her. She gave me the benefits of banking the stem cells and I was moved and fascinated and felt that if I can save my childs life, should the need arise, then this is what I need to do.

Netcells and I have a partnership now – I am their ambassador in Kenya and I am part of the team educating expectant parents about stem cell banking and its benefits. Stem cells are the original building blocks of life and are abundant in the umbilical cord and placenta of babies at birth. This makes the collection of umbilical cord blood a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is free of moral, ethical or religious concerns, as the umbilical cord and placenta are routinely discarded at birth. These stem cells are “virgin” cells as they are healthy cells and have not yet developed an immune system making them preferable for transplant.

Hopefully they will never be needed and should be regarded as an extra form of medical insurance. The diseases that stem cells can currently treat are not common and therefore, the chances of using the cells are thankfully rare. Studies in the United States have been done to calculate the lifetime probability (age 0-70) that an individual will undergo a stem cell transplant. They reported that 1:435 people will receive their own stem cells for treatment; 1:400 persons will receive someone else’s stem cells; and the combined total number of stem cell transplants will be 1:217 persons.With all the current research being undertaken, it is likely that retrievals will increase in the future, as more diseases become treatable through stem cell therapy I am now very conversant with the reasons you should consider storing your Baby’s Cord Blood Stem Cells, and I’d love to share them with you.Having a family history of certain illnesses especially hematological (blood) cancers, inherited blood disorders and inherited immune deficiencies.Having siblings with a disease treatable by stem cell transplant.Being from families of African origin and mixed race marriages, as it is extremely difficult to find suitable donors, given they are seriously under-represented in public banks.

As a form of medical insurance, to give you extra peace-of-mind. You hope you never need them, but if you do, they are available.And now the question of affordability. As with all things, cost is important. Storing you baby’s stem cells is not cheap and if you can afford, you should definitely consider it. If you do speak to your doctor and there is a negative response, it is because some doctors are of the opinion that this is a waste of money, because the chances of needing the stem cells are low. You must however remember that as medical science progresses, more and more diseases will become treatable with stem cells.

I took these facts and statistics from the Netcells website. But you can do your own research. I think in this day and age, it is important that we do this for our children. We are not prophets of doom, however, we need to craft the best possible future for our children. We owe them that much. Just as you save for their education or take out insurance policies for them – this is, as it says and extension of their medical insurance.

There is so much more our children are exposed to, so much so that nowadays, we cannot even trust the foods we give them anymore. Should the occasion come up, you don’t have to feel desperate as a parent, you know – as with everything else for your child – you can give them the best.
I was quite impressed at a baby shower this weekend, one of the games we played was a sort of dare game. For example – crawl like a baby, sit on other person and get that person to burp you – type of dares were on the card. One particular dare was to talk about the cord of your baby for one minute – I suppose before this would have been a boring topic as not much could be said about it – but this weekend, the ladies went on and on about stem cell banking and how the cord and cord blood, once banked, can save your child’s life if the need ever comes up. What a turnaround!

It goes to show, my friends do listen! I think more people should listen. We should spread the word. Let’s start with you!

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