Would you freeze baby’s stem cells?

Blood taken from baby’s umbilical cord and placenta immediately after birth could later benefit them should they fall ill or become injured

Alpine skier and former Olympian Chemmy Alcott, 34, has revealed that she chose to freeze her newborn baby’s stem cells to act as an ‘insurance policy’ against future injuries or illness. She welcomed her first child, Locki, with husband Dougie Crawford, also a professional skier, earlier this month.

‘Thinking about how Dougie and I are adrenaline junkies, the likelihood that [Loki’s] one too is quite high,’ Chemmy explained to HELLO! Magazine. ‘It’s an insurance policy you don’t ever want to use. I did some research into it a while ago when my leg was broken in a ski accident.

Chemmy and Dougie with baby Locki
Chemmy and Dougie with baby Locki

I had to see a plastic surgeon who talked about how stem cells can be used to help the skin heal. So I had quite a personal experience of it, knowing it might have been used to help me.’

The NHS opened its first cord bank 20 years ago, allowing new mothers to donate cord blood. It’s become more popular in recent years; there’s now six collection centres across the country. Blood taken from baby’s umbilical cord and placenta contains life-saving cells, which can be used to treat many life-threatening diseases such as cancers, immune deficiencies and genetic disorders.

Any blood taken at birth is stored indefinitely and is available for sick patients with compatible tissue. If you are later in need of the donated stem cells, you are able to have them back if others haven’t already used them. Parents can use private facilities, which charge anything from £500 to £1,700 for up to 25 years storage, to guarantee the return of the cells.

Chemmy’s interview features in HELLO! Magazine