When Kody and Danielle Chase’s son, Eli, was 8 days old, he was diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a life-threatening genetic disorder. Eli was their second child and they never experienced a health concern like this before — they were devastated. He had appeared healthy at birth, but newborn screening revealed he had SCID and further testing confirmed that he had no T cells (white blood cells that ward off germs), or any way of fighting off infections. Eli was hospitalized for 81 days and then, because of his fragile immune system, had to be isolated at home for another nine months.
When speaking with Eli’s doctors, the Chases learned about a stem cell transplant as a possible treatment. A stem cell transplant is a procedure that aims to re-build a patient’s blood and immune system. They also learned about human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing, used to match patients and donors for stem cell transplants. If a donor and patient share the same or similar HLA types, then that donor may be a suitable source of stem cells for the patient.
As luck would have it, the couple had stored Eli’s big sister Addie’s cord blood with Cord Blood Registry® (CBR®) when she was born. Cord blood banking, which gives families the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save their baby’s newborn stem cells, is typically discussed during a prenatal visit with an OB-GYN. If a family chooses to bank their child’s cord blood, a healthcare provider will collect it right at birth after the umbilical cord is clamped and cut. While the Chases decided to store cord blood from Addie during Danielle’s first pregnancy, they hoped it was something they would never need to use.
After tests were conducted, the family received news that Addie’s stem cells were a perfect match for Eli. On May 10, 2021, Eli underwent a cord blood stem cell transplant, and the outcome was successful. Today, he is a thriving and healthy little boy.
Watch the Chase family’s journey below:
We caught up with Danielle to talk about why she banked her children’s cord blood and why she recommends every family consider cord blood banking.
BabyCenter: Why did you decide to bank your children’s cord blood stem cells?
Danielle Chase: While I was pregnant with our first child, Addie, we considered banking her cord blood, especially after we found out about my grandfather’s cancer diagnosis. We quickly learned that it would not be an option for his treatment, but something kept pulling me toward banking her cord blood. A few weeks before my due date, Kody and I decided that we should do it, and we’re so glad we did. It helped save Eli’s life. Even Addie recognizes the important role she played in Eli’s treatment by using the phrase “her big, strong blood,” and pumping her arm to make a muscle when she talks about it.
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BabyCenter: What would you like other pregnant families to know about the cord blood banking experience?
DC: Honestly, cord blood banking is the easiest part of the entire birthing process. The kit is straightforward, and our medical team had no questions once they read the directions that are included in the kit along with a Parent’s Guide. They completed the necessary steps and boxed it up. After one phone call, someone was at our hospital room door to pick up the box. From there, CBR handled the processing and notified us that the cells were banked. We are huge advocates for banking your child’s cord blood, and it really is the least stressful part of welcoming your baby to the world. It was really important for us to share the story because if it could just influence one person who was on the fence about storing their child’s stem cells, it’s worth it. For my family, it turned out to be such a blessing.
For more information on cord blood banking, parents can call CBR at 888-CORD-BLOOD or visit cordblood.com to enroll.
Disclaimer: This story depicts the family’s personal experiences and is not necessarily representative of other’s experiences and cannot predict outcomes for others. CBR cannot and does not guarantee specific results. Your physician or other healthcare providers should be consulted about your particular situation.The use of cord blood is determined by the treating physician and is influenced by many factors, including the patient’s medical condition, the characteristics of the sample, and whether the cord blood should come from the patient or an appropriately matched donor. Cord blood has established uses in transplant medicine; however, its use in regenerative medicine is still being researched. There is no guarantee that potential medical applications being studied in the laboratory or clinical trials will become available.
Cord tissue use is still in early research stages, and there is no guarantee that treatments using cord tissue will be available in the future. Cord tissue is stored whole. Additional processing prior to use will be required to extract and prepare any of the multiple cell types from cryopreserved cord tissue. CBR Systems, Inc.’s activities for New York State residents are limited to collection of umbilical cord tissue and long-term storage of umbilical cord–derived stem cells. Cbr Systems, Inc.’s possession of a New York State license for such collection and long-term storage does not indicate approval or endorsement of possible future uses or future suitability of these cells.
This post is sponsored by the Cord Blood Registry.