Thursday, 8 July 2010

To freeze cryogenically or not to freeze cryogenically, that is the question

I swear to God, if I have to make one more decision during this preganacy, I'm going to go crazy. I'm a bit of an elephant when it comes to making choices, just the colour of the baby's room would have done me for the whole nine months. But no. Now we have to decide whether or not to save the blood and tissue (yum) from the baby's umbilical cord. Turns out that we can't simply donate it to the Italian national cord blood bank because I might have Mad Cow disease. Seriously. This pregnancy is turning me into a mad cow, I know that much. Anyone who lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996 is considered at risk of having BSE and so can't donate. I wanted to tell the nice lady on the phone that I was vegetarian for a lot of that time, but knowing my luck I'm one of those people who caught it from a Digestive biscuit.

So we've been looking into saving the cord blood privately. Italy doesn't really allow this, but friends recommended a Dutch company that does (just don't tell the Pope). It's expensive, but sadly not so much to have us running for the hills. Not that I've run anywhere recently, I would more likely waddle for the hills, stopping to take a breath every couple of paces.

Saving the cord blood privately has a whole range of amazing benefits, and goodness only knows what they'll be able to do in a few years' time. It just feels weird and selfish to do it privately, even though the public bank has shut the door in our faces. Also, leaving the ethical minefield to one side, there's the fact that I now feel that we HAVE to do it. How would I feel further down the line if my little panino-in-the-oven developped leucemia or something (touch wood, tocca ferro etc etc) and no match could be found? Like I said before, too many choices. I thought the Downs Syndrome screening was bad enough. I'm just a normal girl, not God.

The bureaucratic process of applying for this private service will also potentially keep me busy for at least the next month (and also involves more blood tests; my arms are starting to look like those of a heroin addict). The company sends you a special 'kit' where the medical staff in the hospital put the cord immediately after the birth and which you then have to send to Holland to be frozen. I have visions of standing in the Post Office with a bloody jiffy bag asking about the fastest European postal service and being arrested on the spot.

So you'll excuse me now if I leave you and go and switch off my brain for an hour and watch some trash TV. I'm not sure whether I'd prefer a nice cup of tea or if a fresh juice would be better. That's my kind of decision.


Anonymous said...

Freeze it! Don't fight the modern world sis you never know when you might need it...... hell if they could have done it in 1980 I could be cultivating some ginger hair in a lab right now to combat my ever increasing forehead!

jay said...

BSE from a digestive biscuit? Hahaha! I came here accidentally, while looking for information on travel in Tuscany (we're trying to plan a holiday) but I love the way you write!

I'm also very envious of your fluency (sleep talking in Italian?). I started teaching myself Italian last November when it became clear that Son No. 1's Brescian girlfriend was a fixture and we started talking about meeting relatives. She tells me I talk like 'an educated child', which I think is a compliment. She, of course, is perfectly fluent in English and almost certainly dreams/sleeptalks/thinks in our language.

Anyway, back to the cord blood - I'd freeze it. Go with the Dutch company ... but how does it stay fresh and viable on its way to Holland?

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