Years ago, while in a prenatal, paternal panic, I came upon the prospect of banking my infant’s cord blood. At the time this just seemed outlandishly bizarre and the kind of preventative action reserved for only the certifiably paranoid or pessimistic. But in that classic mode of prenatal panic I thought best to consider the option of banking my unborn child’s cord blood.
I did some light preliminary research, made a few calls and soon found myself being contacted, almost on a weekly basis, by a congenial, but pushy, cord blood representative named Robert (I think). Robert’s job was to inform me, with unwavering conviction, that banking my child’s cord blood was about as important of an action as I could take for my child’s, as well as my family’s, future health. I was required to buy into a plan that involved a $2000 down payment and about $100 annual fee for continuing to bank the cord blood. While compelling, I eventually thought better of it and opted not to bank my child’s cord blood.
Since that very singular moment in time, I have been asked the question countless times, by expecting parents, of whether it is a good idea to bank your baby’s cord blood. My answer is always the same, “Yes and No.”
To give a little background, the practice of banking infant cord blood (it sounds much more macabre than it actually is) involves extracting the umbilical cord blood from the fetal end of the umbilical cord after it has been cut (and yes, after birth). This is done within minutes after birth and is a fairly time sensitive process, so the option to bank your cord blood has a finite window. After the cord blood is collected, it is shipped off to either a private or public cord blood bank, processed and then cryopreserved (AKA frozen) for potential later use. So why bother?