Note : This is not a paid plug for LifeCell 😀 😀 😀
I just remembered it today when I saw the folder containing the receipts of my payment for banking the umbilical stem cells for the twins.
It was my Bhabhi who first opted for it in our family. Bro didnt have much of a clue, but Bhabhi being a doctor, decided on it. When I was pregnant, I never thought about this, but then, one day I saw an advertisement in a magazine and was bowled over. I mean, here was a sureshot way to ensure treatment in case your child ever encountered any major illness after birth. We checked the site. We called the representatives to our house for a demo. We checked out the videos, spoke to Bhabhi and a few doctors, browsed for all available information on the net and finally made a decision. A couple of years later, Bags made the same decision.
A little background on stem cells, from their website –
“Stem cells are the body’s “master” cells that regenerate and turn into the cells that form all of the tissues, organs, and systems in the human body. Given the right environment, stem cells can give rise to a number of tissues that constitute the different organs. Also serving as a kind of repair system for the body, stem cells can divide repeatedly and then differentiate and replenish cells within the body. These unique characteristics are the reason why stem cells are considered a breakthrough in regenerative medicine. They have the potential for providing cells and tissues to treat various debilitating, life-threatening diseases.”
Check out the list of diseases that are curable through stem cells here :- http://www.lifecellinternational.com/treatable-diseases.aspx
We went ahead with the stem cell banking at the time of delivery.
Surprisingly, my gynaec had no idea about LifeCell and its benefits. When I called up LifeCell’s branch in Pune, they immediately sent a representative to the doctor’s clinic to brief them about he procedure. My doctor was suitably impressed and even went ahead with suggesting it to her other clients.
We were given the boxes months in advance. I immediately kept the gel packs in the freezer and the boxes on the table. I warned everyone at home, that the minute I land up in the hospital, they’d have to rush there with the boxes and the gel packs. The nurse’s (from LifeCell) number was set on speed dial. My delivery was scheduled for 9am on 18th Nov (through C-Sec). But the lead surgeon was not available until 3pm. In that duration, there were many hoax instances when it appeared that the surgeon had come. I must have called up home a hundred times to say, “get the boxes” and “no no, don’t get them now. Keep them back”. The BIL must have rued bitterly about volunteering to fetch the lifecell kits and frozen gel packs to the hospital right before my surgery!
Finally, when I was called in for the prep, I made a final call home and begged the BIL to rush to the clinic ASAP. The BF, poor soul, was stuck in a meeting with a visiting client and urged me to take it cool and not rush until he came in. As if it was in my hands 😐
Post prep, I was led to the operation theater. I grinned my way in, totally kicked about getting the immense weight off my tummy 🙂 . When I walked in, I didn’t find a nice and quiet, squeaky place stuffed with equipments. I mean, it was clean and squeaky and there were equipments. Its just that, with the circus in there, I could barely make out any :|!! I mean, excluding me, there was a plethora of doctors and nurses assembled . Wasn’t it a routine C-sec?, I wanted to ask my gynaec. But they were all so busy chatting among themselves that no one paid even the slightest attention to the specimen lying on the table. Me 😐
In between, the BF barged into the operation theater, wild-eyed and frantic.
“Don’t worry”, he mumbled, too shocked on seeing an operation theater for the first time and also disconcerted at the crowd in there.
“I won’t”, I assured him as the nurses hustled him out. Frankly, I just wasn’t worried. I knew I was in safe hands and I didnt have a single negative thought at all 🙂
For the record, there were 9 people in the op-theater, excluding me. There was my gynaec, the anesthesiologist, the lead surgeon, his assistant, the pediatrician, a back-from-Australia-doctor who wanted to observe a twin-delivery, two nurses of the clinic and the nurse from LifeCell.
Initially, the other doctors had no idea what the LifeCell nurse was there for. One of them asked her and she started explaining the concept. Eventually, the doctors lost all interest in me and started bombarding her with questions. In my limp state, I could not help but fret that the doctors were paying far too much attention to the nurse than the tummy they had just split open. I got a small glimpse of the surgeon as he rapidly sewed the tummy in place, all the while checking out the pros and cons of stem cell banking (i’m glad to say, its all Pro and no cons. Unless you consider good health a con. Its your choice, really :|) . A tiny peek from under the eye-patches and I could see the surgeon deftly sewing up the gash. I surmised that the baby-pulling-out-slapping-bottom routine was completed. Twice 🙂 . Surprisingly, though the kids yelled out loud and clear (as vouched by those outside the theater) I don’t have any recollection of the sound 😦
The umbilical cord blood was drained into blood packs and encased between the frozen gel packs, the boxes were couriered to Chennai, where the LifeCell facility is.We received news of the successful blood typing and stem cell extraction within a month of delivery (Lui is O+ like me and Shobby is A+ like his father. There, we distributed
evenly amongst us, didn’t we? 🙂 🙂 )
The LifeCell stem cell storage facility is expensive. A little steep, if you consider that you may never actually need the extracted stem cells yourself. But if not you, any other member of the family can benefit from it ( you need to do the HLA matching first) if suffering from the list of ailments given above. A small excerpt on HLA typing from the website :-
“HLA antigens are proteins found in most cells in our body. Our immune system uses these proteins or markers to recognize which cells belong in our body and which do not. If the immune system determines a cell as not belonging to the body, the cell is attacked. Thus, HLA typing is done to reduce the risk of the transplanted stem cell being attacked by the immune system of the recipient. A close match between the patient’s HLA antigens and the donor’s can reduce the risk of the patient’s immune cells attacking the donor’s cells or vice versa. HLA typing is usually done for all allogeneic transplants, using a blood sample.
There are 6 HLA markers that are matched. For a successful transplant, at least 4 of these 6 markers must match. In some cases even a 3/6 match has been successful. However, it is best to have 4 or more markers that match as it reduces the risk of graft versus host disease”.
Lisa Ray, who suffered from Multiple Myeloma, was successfully treated using stem cell therapy. It just made me all the more glad that I had opted for it. More so, because it was the ONLY chance I had of securing a health insurance for my kids. Their stem cells will not generate again (except Lui, she still has a chance in future :-http://www.lifecellfemme.com/index.aspx). If the children or anyone else in the family never need it (InshaAllah), then I also have the chance to donate the stem cells to others who do need it. Or, I can allow LifeCell to use them for further research.
The reason I started typing this post was because I’ve seen so many of my friends going through pregnancies and deliveries, but no one seems to opt for this procedure 😐 (it isn’t altogether unaffordable). We suffer from far more lifestyle illnesses than ever before, with diabetes ruling the roost in India. I have friends from by office batch, who each suffers an ailment greater than the other. I’m at present , much better than them, but its just a matter of time before age catches up. By the time our kids grow up, I wonder what else we’ll have to encounter. Good health isn’t a given anymore.
So now, People who have opted for LifeCell, do let me know what you think about it.
People who had considered and then backed out, please let me know why you weren’t convinced enough.
People who are interested, do check out this site :- http://www.lifecellinternational.com.
And once more, I wasn’t paid to write this post. I have an uncle who has severe diabetes. The doctors say that his kidneys/liver aren’t up to the mark. There is a chance that his family contemplates stem cell therapy in the future. When that happens and they need a donor, they needn’t look far 🙂