Stem cell treatment from cord blood is fast becoming an alternative form of medical therapy around the world. This is because stem cells gathered from the umbilical cord are the type of cells that have the potential to create new and healthy cells in the body. These kinds of stem cells are similar to the ones found in the bone marrow; however, these cells are collected not from an adult donor but from your newborn’s umbilical cord after it has been cut. What used to be treated as medical waste has been found to be made of miraculous stuff.
Today, Pinoy parents have a choice between two cord blood banks that collect these types of stem cells: StemCord Philippines, which opened its offices in the Philippines in 2002, offering its unique multiple-storage option and storage facilities located in Singapore; and CordLife Medical Philippines, which arrived in the Philippines in 2005 and has opened the Philippines’ first cord blood processing and cryopreservation facility in Manila last March 2010.
The first question on most parents’ minds when it comes to cord blood banking might be: Is it worth it? Cord blood banking is not cheap. It requires a one-time upfront payment for collection and processing as well as an annual storage fee each year of as much as $250.
Is it worth it? Bert Lubin. M.D., of the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) has been quoted to say, “I would advise parents to spend the money on a stroller or car seat,” in response to cord blood banking. “Well, that may be the case today,” says Phoebe Tsai Te, chief operating officer of StemCord Philippines, “but maybe not tomorrow. Today, most people die of stroke, heart attack, or cancer. However, stem cell research has made advances in medicine in just a few years. Treatment of heart disease through stem cells is already underway. The one-in-thousands chance of your family needing cord blood will narrow down in the future.”
Arvin C. Faundo, M.D., medical consultant for CordLife Medical Philippines, agrees, “A family that invests in cord blood banking looks into the future in the same way that another family would get accident insurance. No one wishes for the time to come to use that insurance. But, in case it happens, then the costs incurred will be much lower.” According to Dr. Faundo, a unit of cord blood purchases for use in transplantation may cost up to $35,000. Apart from this, the cord blood of a baby is a 100 percent match for him should he need cord blood transplantation in the future. The baby’s cord blood could have a 75 percent match with a sibling (versus a 25 percent bone marrow match with a sibling) and a 50 percent match with a parent.