Ryan O’Connor and wife invest in umbilical cord stem cell storage

By Faeza
18 August 2015

A new born child’s health and safety is top of mind for any parent who seeks only the best for their child. Parents make financial investments to ensure that their child receives the best education and lives a comfortable life but have you considered an investment in a family cord blood stem cell bank? This is why KFM’s Breakfast Show DJ Ryan O’Connor and his wife Karen decided to store their little girl’s umbilical cord stem cells with Cryo-Save, the largest stem cell storage in Europe and Africa.

Faith O’Connor was born on the 13th May 2015 at 1.9 kg, and is a small miracle for the O’Connor’s. The couple faced a tragedy two years ago when their first born daughter was stillborn at full term. Ryan O’Connor who started out by hosting a Christian dance music show on CCFM on Friday nights, and who is now presenting Cape Town’s biggest Breakfast show with 94.5 Kfm, has fast crept into the hearts of over a million listeners every day.  In 2012, Ryan won the award for Best Breakfast Show Presenter in the country, and has done over one thousand shows on 94.5 Kfm.

Known for his boyish charm, O’Connor feels that he and his wife made the best decision to store their daughter’s stem cells with Cryo-Save’s aid. The Cryo-Save facility is the most modern of its kind in the whole of Africa, providing top level umbilical cord stem cell processing and storage services.  This is enhanced by the fact that Cryo-Save leads the field with the testing of the viability of every cord blood and tissue sample harvested from the umbilical cord after the birth process, ensuring parents of the quality of the stem cells before storage takes place.

"Our aim is to give parents peace of mind relating to the quality of the cord blood and tissue sample, giving them the opportunity to do their best to provide their child with additional means of assistance and coverage against possible future disabling illnesses," says Louis Rehrl, Managing Director of Cryo-Save South Africa.

Banking your child’s stem cells like the O’Connor’s did for their daughter means that they have access to their own genetically unique cells. Should, for example, a child develop a blood disorder, such as Leukaemia or an acquired aplastic anaemia (bone marrow failure), he or she could be treated with their own (autologous) ‘blood-producing’ stem cells. For other blood disorders needing a stem cell transplant, the availability of a matched sibling's stem cells would also be viable for treatment. Currently, data from Private Cord Blood Banks in the USA and Canada indicate that about 60% of paediatric stem cell transplants use cord blood stem cells from a sibling.

There is a 1:4 (25%) probability that a sibling will be a perfect match. You also need to consider that, in future, children whose parents saved their cord blood will have better access to emerging treatments. For example, in the case of a child requiring regenerative medicine therapy, therapies which are being developed overseas, the availability of autologous umbilical cord blood and cord tissue stem cells may provide a unique treatment option.

With this in mind, please remember that the probability that your child will develop a disease that requires a transplant is, thankfully, remote - and might never become a reality. Your present financial position is a current reality and the present and foreseeable needs of your family may have a higher priority. While we all wish to do as much as we can for our children, we must always find a balance which provides for their health, wellbeing and safety - but is also pragmatic.

Cryo-Save:  The Family Stem Cell Bank