This may sound strange, but stem cells have been on my mind a lot over the past couple of years.
It feels as though virtually every research paper I read, every podcast I listen to, every medical
breakthrough I hear about, involves them. Whether it’s curing a disease or reversing organ damage or extending lifespan, time and again stem cells seem to be the hero of the story.
So, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, one of the first thoughts I had was: I definitely want to
keep this baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells.
I know that respected US biomedical scientist, Dr Rhonda Patrick, made that choice when she had her son – as have many other leaders in the field – and I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity.
It’s something I didn’t do with my first two children and I’ve always regretted it.
Importantly, you only get one shot at storing your baby’s cord stem cells, and that’s at their birth.
Miss that chance and it’s gone forever.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are incredibly powerful because they are essentially the body’s raw material. Think of
them as the cells from which all of our other cells – such as blood, heart, brain and skin cells – are
Because of this unique role, they can be used in humans to regenerate and repair tissues and organs that have been damaged or affected by disease. Basically, they can be guided to become whatever cell we need them to be, to produce growth and healing throughout life.
What can they be used for?
Stem cells have been described as the future of medicine because of their incredible regenerative
ability. But they’re also being used right now in a range of life-threatening conditions including
cancer (such as leukaemia, Hodgkin and non-hodgkin lymphoma), blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease and aplastic anaemia), immune disorders and metabolic disorders.
Worldwide, cord blood has been used in over 40,000 transplants in the treatment of 80 different
As for future uses, researchers are currently exploring a wide range of therapies that they believe could use cord blood and tissue, including type 1 diabetes, cerebral palsy and autism.
World-leading longevity expert and Harvard Professor, Dr David Sinclair, uses stem cells as the
cornerstone of his research into reversing aging. He sees stem cells as crucial not only to extending
human lifespan – possibly beyond 200 years of age – but also to curing age-related disease, including
cancer and dementia.
While this research is still unfolding, one thing is clear – stem cells will play an increasingly central
role in the future of human health and how we treat aging and disease.
Thankfully the cord blood and tissue collection process is super quick and doesn’t involve any pain
for me or my bub – it’s just done at the end of the birth without the need for any additional medical
The team at Cell Care, Australia’s largest and most experienced cord blood and tissue bank, have
taken care of every detail. They’ve sent me a Collection Kit that I take along to the birth with me – it’s sitting next to my packed hospital bag ready to go. I just call their around-the-clock team when I go into labour so they can make sure they’re there for me when the time is right.
Knowing this is likely to be my last baby, it’s also my last chance to store the cord blood and tissue
from one of my children. Having not made this choice with my first two, it really is now or never.
Unlike donor stem cells, the cord blood collected at my upcoming labour will be a perfect match for
my baby and it’s also more likely to be a match for my older son and daughter.
Even having the cord blood from just one of my three children, I see it as the ultimate insurance
policy for all three of them. Not only for the many life-threatening conditions it can help treat right
now, but also for the future diseases it is likely to help cure.
And, hey, with the incredible longevity research currently being undertaken, one day my kiddos
might even use those stem cells to add (many) years to their lives – and that’s the best investment I can imagine ever making.
If you’re interested in learning more, pop over to www.cellcare.com.au where you’ll find all the info