Over five years ago, Shelly Connelly gave birth to a healthy baby daughter, Peyton. Unfortunately at the age of one, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and two weeks after the brain tumor was removed, Peyton suffered a stroke which left her paralyzed on her right side and unable to stand up. It was devastating for her parents, but fortunately when she was born her parents made the decision to have her umbilical cord banked and it was reinfused. Today, Peyton is a normal child, and has full function of her right side.
Shelly Connelly and Dr. Rallie McAllister, a family practice physician (who is working with the Cord blood Registry) joined me on Friday to discuss the importance of cord blood banking, and why every parent-to-be should consider it.
Candace Rose: Dr. McAllister, what is cord blood banking and how is it collected?
Dr. McAllister: “Cord blood banking is the collection and storage of a baby’s cord blood. You only have one opportunity to do that, and that’s in the moments following a baby’s birth. So a doctor, nurse, midwife or whoever is delivering the baby will insert a needle and syringe to withdraw the cord blood from the baby’s umbilical cord and then it is sent to the bank and stored indefinitely. The important thing to know about cord blood is that it’s a very rich source of stem cells, and stem cells are very powerful master cells of the human body that can be used to treat 80+ different diseases. FDA clinical trials are showing promise in the treatment of autism, traumatic brain injury, pediatric stroke and things like that. The sad thing is, in spite of all this advancement in medical technology and potential for great use that know that stem cells have…right now about 90% of all cord blood is simply disposed of as medical waste after birth, after the baby is born. Only 10% of a baby’s cord blood is banked and stored.”
Candace Rose: Is cord blood banking something that all families should consider? Or is it something that all certain families should consider?
Dr. McAllister: “I would definitely say that some families might need it more than others. There’s good education at CordBlood.com– parents can go to this website and learn what those 80 conditions are that cord blood can treat right now. Some families are at a greater risk. But in Shelly’s case, there was no red flag ‘oh my goodness we really need to bank our baby’s cord blood’, and Shelly had a wonderful outcome (thank goodness she banked her baby’s cord blood). Without it, her life and her child’s life would have been devastating.”
Candace Rose: Shelly, can you tell us why you needed to use your daughter’s blood banked umbilical cord stem cells, and how the stem cell infusion helped improve her life?
Shelly Connelly: “Like Dr. McAllister said, we had no reason to bank our baby’s cord blood…but we ended up banking it at time of birth. Right around the time she was about a year old she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and they were able to take the tumor out but unfortunately about two weeks afterward she suffered a massive stroke. It left the entire right side of her body paralyzed.
We were devastated as parents, we went straight into recovery mode, therapy mode…’what are our options and what can we do for our baby’. That’s when the light bulb went off in our heads – we banked her cord blood. We were able to reinfuse her with her own stem cells. The recovery that she has made is just tremendous. She has gained complete function back in her leg on her right hand side, she has regained hand function, her speech, her language is just impeccable and we are so grateful and so relieved that we had banked her cord blood.”
Candace Rose: Shelly, what factors went into your decision to bank your daughter’s stem cells when she was a newborn?
Shelly Connelly: “Actually, a family member was pregnant at the same time that I was pregnant. They brought it to our attention, and asked if we were going to bank our baby’s. We hadn’t really thought about it, and then we just thought ‘Well, why not?’ Because basically it’s an extra insurance and we have so many insurances nowadays- we have health and dental and vision and car insurance…why not have this extra bit of insurance for your baby just in case you have this ‘what if’ moment just like we had the ‘what if’ moment.”
Candace Rose: What advice do you have for parents who are considering cord blood banking?
Shelly Connelly: “My advice is just to inform yourself- ask questions, ask friends and family members and your doctor. Get all the information that you can and if you need to, go to the website: cordblood.com and look on that website and see all the information that you need and just be really informed to make that decision.”
Candace Rose: Dr. McAllister, what is the cost of cord blood banking? Are there any free cord blood banking options?
Dr. McAllister: “That’s an excellent question. When you talk about the cost and think about the value- ask Shelly- ‘What was that worth to you?’ It was priceless. The cost that new parents can expect to pay is about $2,000 for the collection and storage initially of the baby’s cord blood. The value is immeasurable.
Who would qualify for a free program? Actually company Cord Blood Registry has a program called Newborn Possibilities. In this program, parents who have at-risk children who might likely benefit from cord blood can have their baby’s cord blood collected and stored for free.
Cord Blood Registry is the company that is participating in all these FDA regulated clinical trials. It’s a wonderful opportunity not only to have your baby’s cord blood banked and stored…if you’re an at-risk family. But also the potential to be involved in one of these groundbreaking clinical trials that are benefiting or stand to benefit kids with autism, pediatric stroke, traumatic brain injury and even hearing loss and conditions like this.”
Candace Rose: Well, thank you both so much. Where can viewers go for more information on cord blood banking?
Dr. McAllister: “Viewers can go to CordBlood.com for more information, or to my website: MommyMDGuides.com where we have tips from mothers who are also doctors, and also their thoughts on banking their baby’s cord blood.”