Tuesday, April 27, 2010

To Bank or Not to Bank

Happy note: 34 weeks tomorrow...and holding!

Long before noodles were in the picture and the propaganda started rolling in, Mr. W and I had discussed cord blood banking. It was mostly scientific and medically related conversation and had no relevance to any real-life situation for us at the time.

But as noodles continued to grow, the topic became more timely. We discussed it with one of our perinatologists, who felt it was still experimental and that private companies preyed on the fears of new parents. He felt the private banks were too expensive, and that public banks were a better choice, however there isn't one in our state. So in our usual fashion, we made a pro and con list that looked something like this:


1) The technology is evolving daily. We don't know what cord blood and stem cells may be capable of doing in even the near future.
2) There is a 50/50 chance noodles' cord blood would be a match for me. And a slightly smaller chance there is a match for Mr. W or another family member.
3) Mr. W's pancreas was attacked by a virus or other autoimmune disorder when he was 20. There is otherwise no genetic history of diabetes anywhere in his family. These stem cells may be an option for him down the road, or for noodles if the same thing happens.
4) Mr. W's first cousin needed a bone marrow transplant last month. There were no matches in the family.
5) Because noodles are identical, the cord blood can be stored together, thus the potential to get twice as much for only one fee.
6) There is a courtesy professional discount available to Mr. W since he is in the medical field and there is a discount to lock in and pre-pay the storage fees.
7) The long-term cost, including processing, collection, and factoring in a pre-paid 25 year storage agreement works out to only a few dollars per month.
8) It's a relatively inexpensive 'possible' life insurance policy for two kids, with the possibility of benefit for one of us.
9) We can lose more money in one day in our 401k than the cost of this program.
10) There is no charge if the collection is insufficient for processing.


1) The technology is still experimental.
2) The initial up front cost is still a chunk when you're trying to bring home 2 new babies on top of it.
3) There is a small issue of custody of the cells, should both of us die before noodles turn 25. It's similar to the embryo custody issue. We figure the cells would need to be addressed in the family trust.
4) There is another issue of custody after noodles turn 25. Since all of the cells would be stored together, which one of the noodles gets to decide when to dispose of them, or when to stop paying storage?
5) There is the possibility the cells could be lost or destroyed in courier transit, or a natural disaster could wipe out the storage lab facility.
6) It adds an extra layer of things for doctors to do in the OR while you're trying to have your kids delivered.
7) There are 30 or so private banks. Which one do you pick?

As you can see from our list, the pros outweighed the cons for us. I researched banks for awhile and narrowed it down to two. In the end, the one I picked (while more expensive) was the longest established one and was funding the most research and had been involved in the largest number of actual beneficial procedures with positive outcomes. Our kit arrived last week (not a minute too soon!) and is packed in noodles' bag o'stuff for the hospital. I am happy with our decision and hope we never need to use the cells ourselves, but they could still benefit someone else one day too.


  1. Hi -- I'm an occasional lurker here by way of IVF40plus. Just a note to say that we banked cord blood too (my husband has had transplant-related lymphoma twice and a number of genetic conditions seem to run in his family) and now, 3 years out, whenever I come across the paper work or hear something about a new therapeutic hypothesis on the radio I feel really happy that we spent the money and kept our options open. Seems like you said you'd be taking down the blog after the babies are born, so I'll say now: I wish for you the very best of luck with your babies and many, many long years of happiness. With love,

  2. Good for you! I briefly considered cord blood banking - I think it's a great idea! We were inundated with ads in the mail (were you?). But in the end, I had too much on my mind and so much going on, I let it slide. As for the cost - yikes, so expensive! - I think the stem cells are so valuable that more people would do it (and thus, more people would benefit) if the cost were government subsidized.