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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
cord blood
We stored our kids' cord blood at a private bank. To me, this kind of thing smacked of preying on parents' fears and of science fiction, but we found one with relatively low starting and maintenance costs so we went ahead with it. I'm still not thrilled about it - still seems fantasyland-esque and if you have a blood-related problem it might not do you much good - and now all the prices have increased dramatically. Now the next kid is due in a couple of months and the missus and I are torn.

Dear readers, I implore you. What do you think about this practice? Should we go forward with storing for #3? Should we donate the blood to a public bank?
Well... just in case, better safe and sorry. I don't have a medical background, but if something can have even potential use, better to have that option. Of course, if the price is exorbitant, and the possibility of it being useful is not very great, it's probably not worth doing.
We didn't do it for any of our kids. The potential benefit is very iffy, but the cost is certain.
Irina, the expression is "better safe than sorry" but I don't know whether it applies here. There are a few pieces of information I don't have but Dr Bean presumably does:

1. How much does it cost to store cord blood per year?
2. Is there a certain point after which you know for sure you will never need it -- when the kid is what age? Or is it something that a kid might use when he is 75 years old? And will it keep that long in storage?

3. What are the chances the kid will ever need his cord blood, statistically? One in a hundred, one in a thousand, one in a million?

The obvious calculus is just what Irina said: if the price is too high and the chance of its ever being needed is very small, then it's not worth doing.

Whether the price is too high depends on what you can comfortably afford. And even then, unless the amount is really minimal, I'd say you would get more bang for your buck by giving tzedaka.

Low risk -- if there is less than a one percent chance of ever needing this blood, don't bother saving it. That's what I think.

Put it another way. Suppose every family in America saved their babies' cord blood for twenty years. How much storage space would that take? How much would it cost the average family? How many of those families would ever use that blood?

And having had no power for three weeks after Wilma, it occurs to me that another question you should ask is: what happens to that blood in a power outage? Does the facility have a generator that automatically kicks in?

At least this is not as big a deal as the scenario in the Woody Allen movie "Sleeper" where he froze his body for the time in the future when science would be able to thaw out corpses and revive them!
I just noticed that donating the blood is another option. If there is a high likelihood that the donated blood will immediately benefit a sick person and a small likelihood that your own kid will ever need it, you should donate it.
I never knew there were public cord blood banks. Is that like the bone marrow donor registry? So, you could pay huge amounts of money for something your kid will likely never need, or you could pay little/no money to possibly benefit one of the few people who do need it, and if your kid does become one of those few, there will probably be some left, and you've haven't had to pay the entire cost of storing it. Given that scenario, I think it would be kinda selfish not to donate to a public bank if it's reasonably possible.
I don't know the answers to 1 or 3 (but my gut feeling is that 3 is less than 1%). The answer to 2 is no. Someone could conceivably need their cord blood at any age.
We're taking our chances with all six. We also don't have life insurance policies for them.
Thanks all for your comments. I will review with Mrs. R and keep you, um, posted.

Extra props to Toby for the "Sleeper" reference - the wife and I just re-watched that a couple of nights ago!

"You have to understand that everyone you know has been dead for close to 200 years."

"But they all ate organic rice."
PT: Why would anyone buy life insurance for kids?

The general rules for insurance are:
1) Don't insure against any event that won't be financially catastrophic. I.e. if you buy a new stereo, don't buy the extended warranty. If it breaks fixing it or replacing it won't ruin you financially. (If it will, you can just live without the stereo.) That makes the insurance a bad buy. Save your money.
2) Don't insure against a certain event. If you're buying insurance for something you're sure will happen, it's going to cost you more than the event itself. Everyone's going to die, you just want to insure against dying during your productive years when your family is depending on you. Old people with life insurance are just giving their money away to the insurance company so that they can get a fraction of it back upon their death.
Interesting Bean - and going off topic here, so forgive me Ralphie. So what's your take on earthquake insurance (in California) or flood insurance (in some place where floods occur). Its a certain event that earthquakes and floods will occur in those places, though not certain that they will effect you or bankrupt you, so do you insure against them or not?

And more on topic, my understanding of cord blood is that:
a) of course, you never know if you'll need it (and hope you don't)
b) its not certain that it would help if you did need it, or that medical technology will have advanced to a point where the unique characteristics of cord blood could effectively be harnassed.
In any case, we didn't bank our son's when he was born.
I haven't figured that one out either, but someone is always trying to sell me kid's policies.

I also don't have one out on my wife, but maybe I should.
PT: With everything your wife does? You should have some insurance.

W: Of course you should carry earthquake and flood insurance. Like Bean said, if your home is destroyed, you can't pay to rebuild it (if you are incredibly wealthy, then you shouldn't). In any case a large earthquake or flood isn't a certainty. Not a certainty like death.
The advice on extended warranties is kinda funny in my case, Bean. Ever since I married Beloved I've learned it's almost a certainty that we'll damage the given item before the extended warranty is up, and having paid the $5-$10, we get a new item at no cost, compared to buying a new one and starting all over. The computer I'm currently typing on is a shining example. When we bought it, I had just learned this important truth. So I paid whatever I paid for a 3-yr extended warranty, and in those 3 years the screen broke FOUR TIMES, only one of which involved the slightest possible provocation. We also needed several other parts replaced. If I hadn't bought the warranty, I might not be typing this now; I might never have met all you interesting people, and that would be a catastrophe!

It makes sense not to buy insurance for an event that's not going to ruin you. But it would be prudent, if possible, to set aside the money you'd pay for insurance, so if the event does happen, you'll be prepared. For example, if your kid died, you'd have enough pain without having to rearrange your budget to pay for an unexpected funeral. And if the event doesn't happen, you have a head start on paying for college! :oP
"But they all ate organic rice!" -- that is a very funny line! Oh how I miss the good old days when Woody Allen was still funny....
I also don't have one out on my wife, but maybe I should.

PT, if your wife died, you'd have to hire two people to do her job, and they'd be costing you money instead of helping you earn it. You need as much life insurance on her as on yourself! ;o)

Speaking of which, my pastor told a very good story recently. A man in rural India wanted a wife. He went to a small village and obtained the chief's permission to seek a wife there. Choosing a family, he approached the father and said, "I would like to marry your daughter. I will pay eight cows for her." The father answered, "But I can't accept eight cows! She's only worth one cow." "Oh, I insist. I must pay eight cows." They dickered, and finally the father relented. Arrangements were made, eight cows changed hands, the wedding was celebrated and the man brought his bride home. Several years later, they came back for a visit, and the villagers asked, "Who is this woman? She's not our neighbor's daughter." "Of course she is," the man replied. "But she looks completely different," they protested, "such a beautiful and capable wife!" "That's because years ago, you saw a one-cow woman. I saw an eight-cow woman, and that is what she became."
I know that's supposed to be an uplifting story, but somehow, picturing an 8-cow woman doesn't do it for me.
Eight cows is not referring to her size. <raspberry>
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