The future use of stem cells is obviously a difficult question to answer. There is no doubt from the levels of research funding driving stem cell research that this is a fast growing and potentially widespread branch of therapeutic medicine. Ideally a properly funded national stem cell depository would allow unfettered access for parents to a stem cell transplant if needed now or in the future. Unfortunately parents come to us because that is not an option for them: there are no widespread facilities to donate samples that would be stored by stem cells storage experts.
Some of the potential therapies of stem cells would require amplification of samples (technically possible now), raising the possibility of multiple uses within a family unit. There is now so much research being undertaken and reported we frequently find ourselves contradicting patients that it is not a panacea and that much of the research has many years before therapies arise from the work.
Areas which are rapidly gathering scientific credibility as therapies of the future that would involve stem cell collection and storage include organ engineering and repair and neurological damage repair, as well as Diabetes. Its widespread use for certain malignancies is currently not recommended. However, there is every possibility that this scenario will change. We feel that cord blood stem cell storage will have a growing therapeutic role in the short future. We feel strongly that private cord blood storage should be offered with full counselling of the risks, limitations and benefits as part of an informed consent process, but also that women are entitled to have access to information to allow them to make this decision based on unbiased factual information about stem cells and cord blood collection.