In my wife's previous pregnancies, we were struggling with the question of whether or not we should collect our babies' cord blood, and with which company should we bank it with. We didn't quite get to that part of choosing a company since we decided not to collect it at that point in time after doing some research online.
In the past, what I learned from my research are:
1. While it is very hard to determine the likelihood of the banked cord blood being used, we do know that the probability is very low. Some say is 1:1,000; some say is 1:2,700 and even 1:10,000. Therefore it is more of an insurance.
2. Some websites (such as those from public bodies) recommend that it is better to store it with public blood bank instead of private blood bank. The main advantage for that is that it's free, and your blood may actually be used to help someone else in need, since the probability of you or your family actually needing it is very low. Also, since the likelihood of using your blood is quite small, should you need it, chances are, it'll still be there for you to use. The problem with public cord blood bank is that it's not available everywhere and to everyone. For example, as far as I know, in Malaysia, there is only 1 public blood bank, which is our National Blood Centre (Pusat Darah Negara) and the donor has to deliver in Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL). Therefore if you are delivering in other hospitals, you won't be able to donate. Not sure if it is still the case now, feel free to call them and ask. You can go to this page directly to read about the cord blood services offered by our National Blood Centre or you can call and find out more. The number to call is +603 - 2693 3888. (Please note that the National Blood Centre website is in Bahasa Malaysia, not English)
3. The use of stem cells is still in the early stage of research, eventhough the potential is great (I believe).
4. The blood collected often is only enough to use it on a kid or a small adult. So when the time comes, it may not be enough for you to use.
5. That there is absolutely nothing wrong in storing your baby's cord blood in private blood bank, if you can afford it.
6. I absolutely hate those private blood bank's guilt and fear inducing advertisements to make parents feel like their baby's life is at stake if they don't store his/her cord blood, and that they can only be considered as "good" parents if they do so. What a load of rubbish! In my opinion, if you have limited resources ($$), I personally think that it is much more practical that you use that money to get a medical / insurance plan for you and your family first. But that's just me. Oh well, unfortunately, this is how the private blood banks make a living LOL! By playing on parents' fears and guilt, gently.
This time around, we felt that we are financially ready to store our 3rd child's cord blood. If you're still asking whether should you or should you not store your baby's cord blood, the answer is very simple:
"Bank your baby's cord blood if you can afford it, and if you believe in it's usefulness."
Our next question is which company should we store it with. Public banking is more or less out of question for us since we are not delivering our baby in HKL. There are currently 4 companies that I know that are offering private cord blood banking services in Malaysia. They are:
1. Stemlife Berhad
2. CryoCord Sdn. Bhd.
3. CellSafe International
4. StemTech International
There may be more. Please do let us know if you know of any other private cord blood bank operating in Malaysia.
When I was doing my research, I came across this blog that talks about one of the above companies being unscrupolous and unethical such as storing Hep B infected cord blood unit. I'm not going to say which company it is, but I strongly recommend reading it, especially the comments, they are very informative. By the time you reach the 50th comment (probably much earlier), you'd more or less figure out which company it's talking about LOL! Of course, always take such websites with a pinch of salt, and always do your own research. What they say may or may not be true. So read it, and decide for yourself what you want to do with that information. Anyway, the blog is called 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Use Co. X.
When you are considering which company to use, one of the comments from the above website came out with a few questions to ask when you call these companies, which I think is very useful. The comment is reproduced below:
Now, the next step for us is to call these companies and interogate them LOL! At the moment, my gut feeling is leaning towards CryoCord Sdn. Bhd. since it ticks most of the boxes. I will definitely let you know of my findings and decision once I called up these companies.
Last but not least, I would recommend a few very good websites and articles for you to read. One of the excerpt that I really like is taken from the article "Private Cord Blood Banking - Some Salient Questions And Straight Answers" by Dr. Ng Soo Chin. He says:
"I have no problems with people storing cord blood for own use later. Neither have I had any qualms about private companies collecting storing cord blood stem cells. My concern is that as consumers the parents are not being presented with the whole truth and this is not acceptable from viewpoint of good clinical practice. I am also concerned about the ‘entrapment syndrome’—the private cord blood Co can present various reasons to up their fees in the future and I don’t think the consumers have very little to fight back. What if the company folds? Despite being claimed as a form of medical insurance, I agreed with Dr Mitchell Cairo (Pediatric oncologist and stem cell researcher) that insurance should have a definable pay-offs and not on theoretical considerations. Perhaps, parents should instead invest on educational or health insurance for the baby rather than on something nebulous as private cord blood banking!"
LOL! Now THAT's a thought! Anyway, some websites and articles for your viewing pleasures:
1. The Health Minister Speaks Up Against Cord Blood Storage Hype
2. Private Cord Blood Banking - Some Salient Questions And Straight Answers
3. Parents' Guide To Cord Blood Foundation - A very comprehensive guide to cord blood banking for international readers since it has information on many of the public and private blood banking companies through out the world, including Malaysia.
4. AABB website.
Well, that's all from me this time. Hope you find it useful. Will update y'all on my findings later. Do leave us a comment or email us if you have any additional information.
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