There was a time when cord blood banking was seen to be a life saviour of sorts. It was being seen as a sure-shot method of addressing all future diseases or problems that can affect the baby. But in many cases, the stored blood also suffers from the same genetic defects and problems that plague the individual. In those cases, the usability of the stored stem cell takes a beating and the entire process – when most needed with the onslaught of some life-threatening condition of your baby – proves to be futile.
There is also a debate between which is a better option: private stem cell banking or public stem cell banking. Many countries like France and Italy have banned private stem cell banking. They recommend that parents should donate cord blood to public banks, making them freely available to anyone who needs it.
The third point to consider and debate is the associated cost of the process and the return on investment. Stem cell banking is a lengthy process that generally involves payment in two phases.
One, is the initial enrollment fee that can be anything between ₹5,000 and ₹20,000 INR. Second, is the storage fee that can range from anything between ₹20,000 and ₹3,00,000 in general cases.
In today’s times raising a kid is, in itself, a costly investment. So whether this large sum of money should be spent towards a process that may or may not be necessary in future – and if necessary whether would prove to be helpful or not – is another debate altogether!
Doctors do not push for stem cell banking proactively to all parents. However, given the somewhat rising affluence of expecting parents and the rising awareness in society about the success of stem cell banking, if parents themselves show an interest towards the procedure, then doctors mostly always show the green signal.
The last moot point to consider for stem cell banking is its effectiveness in treating different diseases and the multifarious ways in which banking centres highlight the cell’s omnipotency. As a matter of fact, there is a lot of work that is being done dealing with embryonic stem cells, which are believed to perhaps have greater ability to develop into more different types of cells than stem cells in cord blood do.
Also there is dispute over the amount of cord blood that is harvested because many times the amount that has been kept stored over the years, do not contain enough stem cells to treat adults. There is confusion over how many years the frozen units will remain viable.
Leukemia – one serious disease that is claimed to be cured with stem cell banking – may get cured with just chemotherapy. It wouldn’t really necessitate the usage of a child’s already diseased blood. Such claims made by banks also add to the confusion in the parents’ minds. In fact, in many cases the stored stem cells are used for treating some family member with a disease, instead of the child himself – then the argument veers to why should the parents pay so much to bank their child’s blood which may come of use to not their own child, but to someone in the family?