Recently I've received a few emails via the various American pregnancy websites I've signed up for (a girl with a bump can never get too many pregnancy-related emails) promoting cord blood banking for 'just' $1300. I just did a quick Google and it looks the going rate is $2000, plus another $200 a year for storage.
I assume the cord blood banking market in the UK hasn't matured yet, as I haven't seen anything like that from the British sites.
But when we first met our midwife back in August we were given a leaflet about cord blood donation. Many UK hospitals offer this service, whereby you donate your cord blood to a public bank, like the Anthony Nolan trust, or the NHS one. They will apparently use it in transplants for people suffering from leukemia or blood disorders - or for research into the same kind of disorders.
It's somewhat speculative stuff, this cord banking. It's a medical advance that's still in the 'great idea' phase. To quote Wikipedia (so it must be true), 'apart from blood disorders, the use of cord blood for other diseases is not a routine clinical modality and remains a major challenge for the stem cell community'. The chance of your cord blood being used to treat a blood disorder (if you develop one) is 1 in 435.
So we've decided to donate our cord blood to our daughter, on the event of her birth. If there's any left, and the hospital works with a cord blood scheme, we'll donate the rest to the public good. What goes around, comes around, after all.
We're off to see the midwife this morning, to get properly registered with the nice birth centre. We have a list of questions relating to the birth. So far they are mainly about the hospital canteen opening hours and whether they have an ipod dock or we'll need to burn CDs of the amazing birth playlist I've created. We're keeping this whole 'creating new life' thing simple, and focussed on comfort above all.