In a post on his blog today, the Dallas Mavericks owner begins by addressing the topic “Want Your Newborn to be an Athletic Superstar?”
Well I have no idea how to make sure he or she gets there. But what I do know that is if you have any such aspiration for your soon to be bundle of joy, then there is one thing you must do:
You must save the cord blood from your child’s birth.
At the Dallas Mavericks we have been diving into any and all advances in medical science that can give us a competitive edge. (The new advanced metrics that will impact the game). I’m not talking performance enhancing drugs, I’m talking proactive analysis and advanced recovery methodologies. One that is obvious is the use of Stem Cells.
What he’s writing about is the collection of blood from the umbilical cord, which you can then have stored long-term with a private cord blood bank. That blood, and the potentially useful stem cells it carries, belongs to you and is available for your use later. Privately banking therefore makes it easier to find a stem cell match for your child, should such a treatment be necessary in the future. The costs will run you at least several thousands of dollars. According to the website of one cord blood bank, it’s worth it because:
Nearly 80 life-threatening diseases — from cancers to blood diseases to immune disorders — can be treated today using cord blood stem cells. The proven effectiveness of these amazing cells has made cord blood the fastest growing source of stem cells in pediatric transplants, and thanks to advancements in research its treatment potential continues to expand.
So the idea on the surface seems a little more sound than cryonics (which similarly expects advances in medical technology to pay big dividends, if we just plan ahead), but there are still plenty of skeptics of the benefits. Dr. Sue Hubbard, who’s “The Kid’s Doctor” on the WFAA website, wrote about the matter last year. She notes that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against private cord blood banking and instead prefer donations made to public cord blood banks (which don’t reserve the cells specifically for your personal use.)
With that being said ,why would you even need a stem cell transplant? The one disease process in which autologous (meaning your own cord blood) stem cells would be used is if your child developed acquired aplastic anemia. The incidence of this blood disease is 3/1,000,000 per year. The chance of being struck by lightening is 1/576,000.
Other childhood cancers including leukemia, lymphoma etc in which a stem cell transplant may be necessary would use stem cells from acquired from peripheral blood (which is the current standard of care). These cells may be obtained from the public banks and may be obtained by anyone who is in need of a transplant after going through a matching system. You are not limiting their availability like a private banking situation. They may be used for the “greater good” where there is a much greater likelihood that they will be needed, and stored appropriately.
Hubbard says any money that would be spent on private cord blood banking is better off place in a college savings account, where it stands a better chance of doing the child some good.
Cuban acknowledges that not everyone agrees with him, but he believes that in the future medicine will be become so tailored to the individual patient that having this early-life material, as technology finds even more uses for it, is a smart investment:
By banking the cord blood in a private cord bank, while relatively expensive (Do your homework PLEASE before making a decision which bank to use), you will have given your child a unique option that could lead to the latest recovery techniques being available to him or her.
You want to know what the next big thing is ? It’s personalized medicine. This is one baby step towards the future for your family
And let me be crystal clear again, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Not everyone agrees with me. It’s not cheap. It’s not a cure all. It’s an option. One that I have used with my children. But you have to make your own decisions.