By Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini
Michelle Ciclese’s story could break every mother’s heart. Eleven years ago, when her son Peter was born, she was discouraged from saving his cord blood stem cells. A nurse told her she would never need them. Less than 12 months later, Peter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a condition for which cord blood stem cell transplants have been shown to be potentially beneficial. Today, Michelle’s son is severely disabled and has significant neurological deficits requiring him to have assistance with his every move. Though the family has adapted, Michelle must always wonder what might have been had she not listened to the nurse and had instead saved her son’s cord blood.
Michelle’s story is one reason I am such a huge proponent of cord blood and placental banking and am an outspoken advocate of the need for a statewide awareness campaign.
Expectant parents are bombarded with so much information that many do not take the time to truly understand the life-saving potential of umbilical cord blood and placental stem cells. Maybe they think, optimistically, they will never need them. Or that the science is not advanced enough. Or they take as gospel what they read on the Internet chat boards without investing the time to have a serious conversation with their physician.
Whatever the reason, 95 percent of parents allow their children’s cord blood to be thrown away as medical waste. If you are pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant or know someone who fits either of these categories, I urge you visit www.savethecordfoundation.org for more information about the benefits of saving cord blood stem cells.
Umbilical cord blood stem cells can actually be used to replace other cells in the body that are abnormal or have been destroyed by disease. Cord blood stem cell transplants are the standard of care for many life-threatening blood disorders, such as Leukemia and myeloma. But that is just part of the story. They are also the focus of significant research in an emerging field called regenerative medicine. This exciting new science may revolutionize the treatment of many debilitating conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury and maybe even cerebral palsy. Though the work is still advancing, it offers extraordinary medical possibilities.
Hopefully you will never have a need as dramatic as Michelle’s son Peter. Still, I encourage you – get the facts. Preserve your options. Preserve your newborn’s cord blood and placenta blood stem cells.
Mary Pat Angelini represents Legislative District 11.