The gift of life-Stem Cell storage

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Let’s take a brief moment and talk about stem cells. So your initial reaction would be what the hell is that and what does that have to do with being a mother.

Well, everything really.

What is a stem cell?

It is an undifferentiated cell of a multicellular organism which is capable of giving rise to indefinitely more cells of the same type, and from which certain other kinds of cell arise by differentiation.

In short it’s basically a cell that doesn’t have a purpose that can make more cells to give rise to other functional cells.

(As you know your whole body consists out of cells making you a multicellular organism)

What is it used for?

Because stem cells can become bone, muscle, cartilage and other specialized types of cells, they have the potential to treat many diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer. Unfortunately these are all conditions that lately seem to hit very close to home for me and I am pretty sure it does for you as well.

With stem cell research being on the forefront of medical research, eventually, they may also be used to regenerate organs, reducing the need for organ transplants and related surgeries. Stem cells are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods. Unlike muscle cells, blood cells, or nerve cells—which do not normally replicate themselves—stem cells may replicate many times, or proliferate.

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This all sounds spectacular and is a massive leap for medical science, so why aren’t people falling over each other for this technology?

To tell you the truth stem cell research is fairly new. Scientists discovered ways to derive embryonic stem cells from early mouse embryos more than 30 years ago, in 1981. The detailed study of the biology of mouse stem cells led to the discovery, in 1998, of a method to derive stem cells from human embryos and grow the cells in the laboratory. It may sound like a long time, but to just put things into perspective the first cell (not stem cell) was discovered in 1665.

There are two types of stem cells;

Embryonic stem cells and Adult/Somatic stem cells.

The major difference between these two are that embryonic cells are the cells that a baby develops from in utero. These cells can become any cells.

Adult stem cells are believed to be between normal cells in the body of the organism. These cells are limited to only becoming certain cells.

The amazing thing is that these embryonic stem cells can be harvested and stored and can be available for use at any time.

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So how does this work?

You will find  storage bank that suits your needs. At the moment you can store with Netcells or Cryo-Save.

The procedure is explained extensively on their websites but also in the contracts.

Firstly you as the mother will have to undergo preliminary blood tests. And there is also the harvesting of the stem cells. This is approximately R2500.00

The Banking fee is around R13 000.00 depending on which laboratory you decide to go with. This is a hefty sum of money especially if you take into consideration all the costs adding up to the arrival of your new born. Luckily the laboratory’s do know this and they offer interest free payment plans which is a lot more reasonable. Also look out for medical aid discounts. There is an annual storage fee.

We decided to store Miss M’s cord and cord blood, I have to say the procedure was hassle free.

We decided to go with Salveo (Cryo-Save) and chose to do the 60 month option which comes to about R270.00 per month.

All harvested cells are stored for a minimum of 5 years. There after you can decide if you would like to continue storage, (with an annual storage fee, they can store stem cells for up to 28 years) discontinue storage-they will destroy your cells or donate it to a public stem cell bank where it will be used as necessary.

I am going to be honest, the reason for me writing this is because I saw a mom-to-be asking whether or not to save her baby’s stem cells, the amount of people that answered no is absolutely astonishing.

I see it as life insurance or disability cover, heck even car insurance. It’s something you don’t really want to use but realistically is something you need. Just in case.

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