Every parent who delivers in an up-market hospital in India today is told by their doctor to go ahead and store their umbilical cord blood stem cells of the baby. They made a lot of promises about how valuable these stem cells are; about how in case the baby has a problem in the future these stem cells can be used to replenish any kind of cell in the body; what makes these stem cells so precious; and why they only have a limited window of opportunity, which is at the time of birth. The marketing spiel is that it’s a very cost-effective investment because it could make a world of a difference to their child’s health in case she ever develops a medical problem in the future.
It’s easy to play on a parents’ guilt. After all, children are high-investment products, people don’t have too many children, and you want to do your best for your baby. Since you’re spending so much on your pregnancy and childbirth, then why not go ahead and spend a little bit more on storing these precious cord stem cells ? It’s sold as an insurance policy – your child will most probably not need it, but in case she does do, it’s great to have that option.
This sounds very good, but the reality is completely different.
Cord stem cell banking has been around for nearly 10 years now. There must be at least 100 cord blood banks all over India, all of which are private players. A quick back of the envelope calculation means that there might at least be 100,000 stored cord blood samples in these private banks, but what I find very disquieting is there are no success stories about how pediatricians have used these cord stem cells to treat babies with a serious medical problem , which they wouldn’t have been able to successfully treat without these stored cells.
You’ve got to worry about the absence of these stories.
Director and Values Custodian at Solidarity Advisors
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