I first found out about cord blood banking four years ago. Back then, only a handful of people were doing it here in the Philippines—a handful of very rich people. Cord blood banking was very expensive and the expense was mostly due to the lack of options. A few years ago, your only option was dealing with Singapore-based companies. You had to ship the cord blood and store it in Singapore. A friend of ours who availed of the service for her baby said that it cost about Php 500,000.00 (straight payment, about USD 10,0650.00). And that’s on top of all the hospital fees for pre-natal care and delivery. So, about half a decade ago, it was very easy to say no to cord blood banking—it was just too expensive.
Today, there are relatively affordable cord blood banking options here in the Philippines because we now have local cord blood banking facilities. On top of that, the local service providers offer flexible payment schemes. The most affordable and flexible package we found was (June 2016):
Php 38,000.00 initial payment (with a 12-month, 0% interest installment option, USD 807.00)
+ Php 10,000.00 (USD 213.00) annual fee for the first ten years of your child’s life (x 10 years)
+Pphp 8,000.00 (USD 170.00) annual fee for the next eight years (x 8 years)
All the packages were for a total of 18 years. At 18, your child has to consent to continue the service, and more payments are made. Increasing initial payments decreases the total cost because more discounts and freebies are offered. Given these options, it was actually something that we could realistically consider for Squishy.
Mikey and I had a divide and conquer thing going on. He was in charge of researching about Squishy’s gear (carriers, strollers, etc.) and I was in charge of the cord blood banking research.
Midway into the second trimester, and about 100 articles and 50 conversations with my mom friends, I was leaning towards saying foregoing cord blood banking altogether. Mainly because:
- even though it’s more affordable, it’s still a substantial amount of money,
- it is not a cure for anything—what it does is that it gives your child a fighting chance if he/she were to get one of the diseases cord blood could be used for (and that’s after you get the full prescribed treatment) –in fact, the success stories published by the cord blood banks usually end with the child going into remission but they never claim that the child was completely cured, and
- the sales representative I was talking to wasn’t organized so I was getting annoyed every time I spoke to her.
So, one afternoon, I was in the car with Mikey and Lola when Mikey casually asked me how the cord blood banking research was going. Because I didn’t really want to get into it in detail, I just said: “the sales person is hard to talk to, so I’m thinking no more nalang.”
I thought that they would just shrug it off and go with whatever I decided, but both of them interjected—“what do you mean no more nalang?”
I realized that I struck a nerve, so I backtracked and said, “Maybe I’ll meet with her face to face and it’ll be easier to get information.” And both of them agreed that that’s what I should do. And that’s what I did. The sales representative was easier to talk to in person compared to email (go figure).
What I failed to take into consideration was that this was a very personal matter to both my husband and my mother-in-law. Both of them lost a niece/granddaughter to a disease where cord blood may have been helpful. Mikey shared that seeing a child go through something like that changes you—more so if it’s someone you loved dearly. Mikey shared how helpless everyone was and if this was an option back then, they would have taken it in a heartbeat.
Understandably, my mother-in-law really wanted this for Squishy. She said: “the best case scenario is that it’s throw-away money. It is money that you never want to see again. And that would be the greatest thing. But in case you do need the cord blood in the future, what you’re actually buying is hope. And that’s worth it.”
I can’t imagine what it would be like to care for a sick child. When my strong and manly adult husband gets sick, my heart aches. I can’t imagine what it would be like if it were Squishy. I can’t—but they can. And they’ve lived through the heartache and the hopelessness. So this is what made us decided to bank Squishy’s cord blood. It’s not really science (not yet, but the research continues). It’s personal. It’s hope-insurance.
Is it something that I would recommend for everyone? Nope (Mikey would answer differently). But if you have a family history of certain diseases, and money isn’t an issue (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it being an issue), then maybe it’s worth looking into. It’s a very personal decision you have to make with your partner and I hope that it is never motivated by guilt.