When I first got an e-mail about ‘collecting stem cells to protect me in the future’ I admit, I had a futuristic horror movie flowing through my mind. I wouldn’t be letting anyone harvest any cells from my baby, thank you very much.
I recently did a little looking into this practice as the thought of ‘harvesting cells’ perturbed me so much.. Only to realise all isn’t what it seems in the rather pushy e-mails advertising various companies and harvesters, baby is completely separate to the said harvesting taking place and it isn’t too invasive either. I know when I first had an e-mail about it, my mind immediately painted the medical professional as some leatherface-esque horror villain armed with pointy objects and vials looking to get at my newborn – but that isn’t the truth at all.
What does it involve?
After birth, baby still has the cord. The umbilical cord, which he has to absorb various nutrients from you during your pregnancy – after birth, this is often taken and discarded. What the ‘harvesting’ companies do, is have a specially trained medical professional take the cord blood and store it for future use.
Some people decide to store a 4-6cm section of cord for the same reason, although this is taken after the safe delivery of the placenta – again, by a trained medical professional.
What are stem cells used for?
Currently stem cells are being used to combat certain illnesses – such as lymphoma and leukaemia although the research currently being made into this special cell is on-going and progressing each and every day.