Alex Lloyd: The Umbilical Cord is Amazing, Here's Why I Donated Mine
Journalist Alex, donated her baby's umbilical cord blood so it could potentially be used in lifesaving treatment. Here she tells us why.
You've got to feel sorry for the placenta. For something that does such a vital, wondrous task, it doesn't get even half of the credit it deserves. It nourishes your baby. It takes harmful waste away from him. It gives him antibodies to protect against infection. It supplies essential hormones.
In a nutshell, it allows new life to thrive. Yet once your baby is here, it is discarded without a thank you or a second thought (unless you are one of those curious people who chose to eat it, or turn it into faddy ‘placenta pills’, of course).
So when, on a routine visit to Lewisham Hospital, I was asked if I might donate the cord blood from my placenta and umbilical cord after the birth, the decision was a no-brainer. The organ that had nurtured my child could be put to good use nurturing someone else - and all that was required of me was to sign a few forms. Precious Cells would do the rest.
It was, quite simply, the right thing to do.
I completely understand that many parents-to-be have lots to think about and much anxiety in the lead up to birth, so considering donation might not be top of their to do list. But my philosophy is that you should count your blessings and help when you can. I’ve had enough loved ones who suffered life-threatening illness to know it can happen to any of us. You don’t know what is around the corner.
Happily for us, despite a dramatic 36-hour labour ending in emergency c-section, my son Ralph arrived safe and sound – and the cord blood was expertly banked by the Precious Cells team. (In fact, I vividly recall waving at the technician awaiting the donation as the theatre team prepped me for surgery.)
And in the days afterwards, as I got to know my baby, the act of giving those stem cells became even more poignant. He was healthy and thriving – I don’t know how I could have coped if things were different.
I did know, though, that I’d want him to have every chance at life. And that’s why I’d urge all mums-to-be to #BePartOfIt too.
Alex Lloyd is a thirty-something national newspaper and magazine journalist, who specialises in writing about real life stories, parenting and health. Originally from Wales but living in London, she became mum to a little boy called Ralph in August 2016. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @alexlloydjourno