I was pondering on whether to store my incoming baby’s umbilical cord stem cells, after attending a talk two weeks ago. FYI, to our typical ‘layman’ understanding, stem cells are master cells which can copied into other types of cells (like muscles cells, blood cells…etc) for healing of diseases.
It sounds a miracle to me! Most of the stem cells organizations claimed it can healed by replacing or regrowth the cells damaged by diseases like cancer, diabetes, leukemia and etc. It also can be used by the parents and siblings.
I probed further by asking questions and summarized the pros and cons to the best of my knowledge:-
- Almost a miracle breakthrough for blood related disorders like leukemia,thalassemia and etc.
- Can be used for lots of diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and etc.
- Can be use by parents and siblings, provided their cells ‘matches’
- Consider affordable, compare to typical insurances (about Rm2500+ initial payment, Rm250 yearly maintenance)
However, here are the cons:-
- It can only be used once as the stem cells from babies are not enough for further usage while the technology not mature yet to grow the stem cells in Malaysia.
- No guaranteed it can be used on other family members, except the owner, unless the cells matched.
- Technology still new, no comprehensive studies yet that the stem cells are still effective after some long donkey years in the storage.
- Have to pay the yearly maintenance for the storage of the cells for LIFE, if you never utilised it or cancel it.
- Not 100% guaranteed yet that it can cure the diseases , though there are some results out there. It’s mainly effective for blood related disorders at the moment.
- No insurance payment for diseases that’s not listed in the terms and conditions of the policy for stem cells transplant. This can costs around Rm100k. So, if you want to use it for other diseases that’s not listed, you gotta fork out your own money.
My conclusion: It seems that the technology is still new and it’s more like a gamble to store the cells for the future as an insurance for disease. This is my opinion for now. (but it may changed in the future)
Here’s a good source from last week’s Sunday Star, which dwells on the promises and realities of stem cells at the MOMENT.