Knowing your family’s medical history and what medical conditions or diseases you could be predisposed to, ultimately empowers you to take the necessary steps to reduce potential health risks for your children through stem cell therapies. For instance, common medical conditions such as heart disease, elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and certain types of diabetes can often be managed and treated through simple changes to lifestyle choices and environmental conditions.
When it comes to blood cancers and other blood disorders on the other hand, these can often only be treated or cured by means of a stem cell transplant. While on the surface this may seem a viable solution, South Africa, despite its diverse ethnic make-up, has no public cord blood stem cell bank, which makes the likelihood of finding a matching donor challenging.
This means that without storing your baby’s cord blood and tissue at birth, your only course of action would be to approach the South African Bone Marrow Registry to find a possible stem cell match from an unrelated donor, should your child ever needs a stem cell transplant to treat one of these diseases.
However, there is no guarantee that a match will be found and the search for a possible match can be debilitating to a family’s finances and hope for recovery. In addition, delays in commencing stem cell therapy and the high costs involved, could hamper the success of the treatment.
Having direct access to stem cells harvested from the cord blood and tissue of your children can prove life-saving. In addition to numerous other advantages, not only is the cost associated with cord blood and tissue banking significantly lower compared to that of a bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell collection, but the chances of finding a donor match are also greatly increased, as your child’s own stem cells provide a perfect match.
And should stem cell treatment be required by a sibling, the chances of an adequate match are up to 75%, providing much better odds than relying on finding an unrelated donor.
Cord blood stem cell transplants have already changed—and saved—thousands of lives across the globe, and are currently being used to treat more than 75 diseases, including numerous types of blood cancers, bone marrow failure syndromes, blood disorders, inherited metabolic disorders and deficiencies of the immune system.
So, while monitoring your baby’s health in the womb is important, stem cell storage is a critical consideration when it comes to ensuring the best possible advantage for your child’s future health.