When Jessica Hahn, 26, was just nine years old, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. While chemotherapy attacked her cancer, the treatment bankrupted her bone marrow. Umbilical cord blood from a donor re-placed her dying marrow with new, healthy, bone marrow, and ultimately, saved her life.
A baby’s umbilical cord blood contains a rich supply of potentially life-saving stem cells that can treat leukemia, lympho-ma and many other critical medical conditions. Uncertain of the future, but put off by the cost, many parents wrestle with the decision to bank their baby’s cord blood. More often, however, the umbilical cord is discarded. Those choosing stor-age have the option of private or public banking.
Private banks advise parents to pay to store their baby’s cord blood as a sort of insurance should a child develop a life-threatening diagnosis that could be treated with her own, perfectly-matched stem cells. Private banking may not be a practical option for many families since it’s expensive, costing over $2,000 for the initial processing and around $125 annually after that.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which generally recommends donating cord blood unless a family member suffers from a medical condition that could benefit from a cord blood transplant, says the likelihood of your child ever needing her own cord blood is low, estimating the chances at one in 1,000 to one in 200,000.