Organ donation is something I think about often. I’ve recorded my preferences with my provincial government, and spoken to my family about my wishes in terms of organ donation, should I pass away. Organ donation is really a no-brainer for me. All I have to do is think about one of my best friends, and her son, to know I have made the right decision when it comes organ donation, and making sure my wishes are granted.
You see, my friend’s son required a liver transplant a few years ago when he was just a young boy. Without it, he would die. I can’t even begin to know what that must have been like for my friend to face such a horrible and scary situation. Luckily, a liver was found that was compatible for my friend’s son. Unfortunately, that liver was not found in Canada. My friend and her son had to travel to the United States to receive his new liver. So not only did my friend have to face supporting her son through an onslaught of tests and procedures, she had to face the fact that, in order to give her son a chance to survive, she would have to travel far away from friends and family to have the transplant completed. Imagine how much harder that was for her having to be away from friends and family at a time like that when she probably needed them the most.
The operation was a great success, and today, thanks to the person who donated their healthy liver, my friend’s son is alive and well, and living a normal life.
I was thinking about my friend and her son the other day when I was reading a story about Cord Blood Banking. I am well aware of organ donation, but must admit, I really knew very little about Cord Blood Banking. Do you know what Cord Blood Banking is all about?
Cord Blood Banking is the process of taking a newborn baby’s umbilical cord blood, right after birth, and “banking” it for the purpose of using it later, should your child require it for treating diseases or disorders. Cord blood can be used to treat over 70 diseases, including cancers and blood disorders. I’ve read that studies are underway to see whether or not cord blood could be used to help treat disorders such as Cerebral Palsy, Type 1 Diabetes and Autism.
For those of you wondering, Cord Blood Banking is offered here in Canada. I remember reading about a hospital in Ottawa that started collecting cord blood for the first time in the fall of 2013. To me this is an important factor. Remember how hard it was for doctors to find a liver for my friend’s son here in Canada? That’s right, they couldn’t. She had to rely on a U.S. citizen, and U.S. doctors, to get the liver her son needed.
Apparently, Cord Blood Banking is quick, painless, and safe for both baby and mother. The procedure takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish, and is completed right after a baby’s birth. For parents worried that the collection of your baby’s cord blood will change the post-birth procedure of allowing father’s to cut the umbilical cord – fear not. Fathers in Canada do in fact cut the umbilical cord, if they choose to do so, even when parents have chosen to have their baby’s umbilical cord blood banked.
After knowing what my friend and her son went through with his liver transplant, and knowing some other friends and family members who have children who live with conditions that cord blood could potentially cure, I wouldn’t hesitate to bank my baby’s blood. Of course, just like organ donation, cord blood cannot help fight against all diseases and disorders. In fact, I’ve heard that sometimes cord blood can contain the same genetic defect that caused the condition in the first place. In a case like that, cord blood would likely be useless. Cord Blood Banking is like an insurance policy bought to protect our children against disasters, and just like any insurance policy, not all types of disasters are covered.
Banking cord blood is a personal decision, but like organ donation, one that should at least be considered by all parents.
Have you banked your baby’s cord blood? Would you ever consider doing this?