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Cord Blood: Should You Bank on It?

Chana Mayefsky

You’ve probably seen the ads at your ob-gyn’s office about how saving your baby’s umbilical cord blood can save lives. Before you sign up, here are the pros, cons, and risks.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

: In 1974, Bracha Schechter’s baby brother Yonah succumbed to aplastic anemia because he couldn’t get the bone marrow transplant he so desperately needed. Bracha was only a little girl at the time, but the memories of his tragic death stayed with her. She promised herself that when she grew up, she would do whatever it took to preclude a similar tragedy.

She didn’t have to wait long. In the late 1980s, doctors began using umbilical cord blood stem cells to successfully treat diseases that had previously been combated with bone marrow transplants. This was enough to convince Bracha — now a mother of three girls and a little boy named in her brother’s memory — to store the umbilical cord blood of each of her children in a cord blood bank, today a burgeoning industry.

Despite the potential healing power of cord blood for the infant, its siblings, or even a stranger, many experts are reluctant to encourage parents to invest in cord blood storage. Why the hesitation? Turns out that blood cord banking is a loaded issue — with medical, financial, and halachic implications.

 

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