The gift that lasts a lifetime
OHbaby! spoke to TV presenter Laura McGoldrick about banking her baby’s cord blood with New Zealand’s only cord blood banking service.
Congratulations – you’re pregnant, and walking on air! There are so many things to think about, it’s hard to know where to start. There are practical pregnancy matters to organise, such as who will oversee your pregnancy, and where and how you’ll give birth. And there are practical baby matters to manage, such as where baby will sleep, and what you will need to buy. Many expectant parents re-evaluate their insurance policies during pregnancy, to acknowledge their impending arrival and to ensure appropriate strategies are in place, should any ‘worst case scenarios’ eventuate. There’s also another kind of ‘insurance’ policy to consider for your baby: cord blood banking. While standard insurance policies pay out in cash, cord blood is an investment that could save your child’s life in the future.
Cord blood is the blood that remains in your baby’s umbilical cord following birth, and after the cord is cut. It contains valuable stem cells that are a perfect DNA match for your baby. These stem cells are effectively the building blocks of the blood and immune systems, and can grow into other types of cells, including heart, muscle and nerve cells. However, there’s only one opportunity to collect these precious and powerful stem cells, and that’s immediately after your baby is born.
Established 16 years ago, CordBank has now banked the cord blood of many thousands of Kiwi families. It is New Zealand’s only family cord blood banking service, and co-founder Jenni Raynish says she has been blessed to witness the huge difference it has made to the children who have used it for an increasing range of conditions.
One couple grateful to have their baby’s cord blood on hand, if needed, is TV sports presenter Laura McGoldrick and her husband, New Zealand cricketer Martin Guptill. Like many first-time mums-to-be, Laura took to the internet to investigate what she could be doing in preparation for her new baby. When she came across an article on cord blood banking, she wanted to know more, so called CordBank to chat about it.
The CordBank team took her through the cord blood banking process and the reasons thousands of other Kiwi families have done this for their children. Laura also spoke to two mothers who had banked their babies’ cord blood. One of those mothers had successfully used it for her child; the other mother is so pleased she has it so it is there when needed in the future.
Laura and Martin recognised this was a worthwhile investment for their baby’s future. “Everyone agreed, so we registered online with CordBank to bank our baby’s cord blood. Scientists are still finding out exactly what it can be used for, on top of the things we already know it can do, so it felt like a bit of a no-brainer – a type of life insurance for our child.”
The couple were incredibly excited about their impending arrival, and although Martin was overseas playing cricket for much of her pregnancy, “he ended up doing a lot of the baby shopping”, Laura recalls. “After one trip to London, he came home and it looked like he’d robbed a Disney store!”
Laura wisely packed her hospital bag weeks in advance of her due date, popping in the “absolutely beautiful” CordBank kit, so she was ready to go. Baby Harley ended up being a week late, and after a 16-hour labour, Laura needed an emergency Caesarean. She’s philosophical about the experience. “As long as she arrived safely, it didn’t really matter how!”
Laura says that just knowing Harley’s cord blood stem cells were collected and are now safely stored at CordBank gives her comfort, and she hopes other expectant parents consider this for their families as well. “Read up on it, do some research, talk to people who have done it, because you don’t want to miss your only chance to do this for your child at birth.”
Baby Harley has now celebrated her first birthday. “She’s beautifully adventurous, loves meeting new people and adores spending time with her Daddy” says Laura. “Being Harley’s mother is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. She was everything I didn’t realise I needed. I feel so incredibly lucky to have her.”
Stem cells are the building blocks of the immune and blood system. Stem cells can divide into other cells that are an exact DNA match for your baby’s existing cells. They have been used in the treatment of many different cancers, immune deficiencies and genetic disorders.
For the past 30 years, cord blood has been used to rebuild children’s immune systems after cancer treatment, as an alternative to bone marrow transplants.
Latest emerging medical applications for a child’s own cord blood include type 1 diabetes and brain injuries — with many new uses rapidly emerging.
Learn more about saving your baby's cord blood stem cells at birth www.cordbank.co.nz.