As some of you might know, the reason I became The Safety Mom is that my first child died of SIDS in 1997. I became committed to saving children's lives and hopefully sparing other parents the grief that my husband and I had experienced. Since then I have had the good fortune to represent companies that truly are committed to the same mission. And this weekend I was able to witness one such company in action first hand – Cord Blood Registry.
A good friend went into labor during her baby shower this weekend. Unfortunately she was just 26 weeks pregnant and carrying twins. The doctor told my friend Angela that most likely the twins would be born within the next 24 hours and that they would be immediately rushed to another hospital that had better services for premies. Once they were at the hospital I called my contact at Cord Blood Registry to find out whether they would be able to collect cord blood from babies this premature. I was told absolutely they could and my contact worked tirelessly all Sunday to find the CBR representative who serviced this area to determine whether this hospital had kits in stock or whether we could get them from another hospital. As I have learned, some hospitals are reluctant to collect cord blood from premies and, in fact, I was told by one of the maternity nurses that "they don't do it." I immediately called Angela's husband and told him that he must insist that they collect the blood – this is the parent's right. Her husband was extremely frustrated as he had never been told about banking cord blood from their doctor and, as he said, "If this is so important why am I only hearing about this now?" I managed to explain to him some of the incredible advances that have occurred with the use of umbilical cord blood – how it can now be used in the event of brain injury, cerebral palsy and when there is neurological damage – all potential outcomes of prematurity. But it had to be Angela that told her doctor that she wanted to collect the blood. She was so dopey from all of the medication she forgot!
Fortunately, Monday morning she told her doctor but was informed that the hospital was out of kits. That's when CBR really kicked in! We found the CBR representative (who was in the process of moving from another state and didn't even know the area very well yet) She hopped in the car, got to the hospital and was running the kits down the hall as Angela was being wheeled into the operating room! She literally arrived with moments to spare. Ironically, I later learned that this rep had met with Angela's OB group on Friday and was told by them that they never discuss cord blood banking with their patients but only discuss it if the patient brings it up.
This is ridiculous! Isn't it a doctors responsibility to explain options to their patients? How can they withold information that could literally save a child's life?!?! Are they not aware of the miraculous stories of children who have started walking and talking thanks to cord blood? If you haven't seen this video, watch it and be prepared to cry! Chloe Levine's story.
Angela gave birth to two beautiful little boys, both weighing under 2 lbs. The executive from CBR was one of the first people on the phone with me asking about the boys and requesting a picture. His local rep called back to make sure the courier had arrived to pick up the kits and my contact was going to take a picture of the vat where there blood was being stored so that Angela could see it. We were both in tears wondering what the future would hold for these two little boys. I have never been involved with a company such as CBR – where every employee cares so deeply about their clients and are willing to do anything to help.
I know that I could never have lived with myself if I had not convinced Angela to bank her sons' blood. This is insurance, not just for the challenges that might await them as premies, but when they are grown boys on the football or soccer field or riding a bicycle and might need the blood due to a potential brain injury.
I am making it my personal crusade to shout it from the rooftops to every new mom and dad – YOU MUST BANK YOUR BABY'S CORD BLOOD! I hear some people say it's too expensive but it is a small price to pay when you consider that it might someday be used to save your child's life.