Voshte Gustafson was three month pregnant when she had received email to donate the umbilical cord blood of her new born child to take prevention from various disease. She has been receiving messages to save the cord blood of her child. A lot of companies are approaching them in various ways. Voshte’s husband and father-to-be Kiley Gustafson, reported to have received nearly 25 private cord blood banking pamphlets in the past several months.
This is one of the common problems that parents face across America. Like all the other parents of more than 4.3 million babies born in the U.S. last year, the Gustafsons will have to decide what to do with their child’s cord blood, a rich source of stem cells, the building blocks of blood that can potentially be used to treat certain cancers and other diseases. The vast majority of those parents will do nothing, and the umbilical cord and the cells it contains will be discarded as medical waste.
The tiny fraction that remain, however, will be caught in the sharp debate between private cord blood firms vying to cash in on an estimated $1 billion industry and public registries trying to boost diverse donations to fuel research and save lives in the community at large. Critics claim that private cord blood banks exploit expectant parents’ worries using emotion-laden advertising and spurious statistics to scare them into buying expensive biological insurance they’ll likely never need and may not be able to use.
The main problem is, the advertising often oversells the potential for cord blood use. Although cord blood stem cells are easier to match and more convenient to use than bone marrow cells, the users remain limited. Worldwide, only about 2,000 cord blood transplants are performed annually, though the number appears to be growing. Private firm ViaCord tells parents the chance of a baby who needs his own or a sibling’s stem cells, including cord blood, is as low as 1 in 220. Commercials on baby-oriented TV channels, glossy ads in child and parenting magazines, direct-mail contracts with maternity stores, brochures in obstetricians’ offices and eager e-mail sales pitches saturate the market. Private banking firms deny that their marketing tactics are over-the-top or that their parents are being manipulated by the material.
Public banking is free to donors . It’s available to anyone who needs it for conditions ranging from cancer and leukemia to conditions such as severe aplastic anemia, sickle cell disease and other genetic disorders. For many other willing parents, public donation isn’t so easy to come by. Across the country, fewer than 200 hospitals handle public donation, mostly because they’re too far from storage centers or lack equipment and resources. At the federal level, there’s not enough funding to collect public donations or enough space to store them, said Robert Baitty, director of the National Cord Blood Inventory.