With Cellaviva's midwives Mianne and Henriette
Prenatal visit to Molly Egelind and Benjamin Hasselflug
“You don’t take out accident insurance because you expect to get hurt, and the same applies here…”
– Molly Egelind
Henriette and Mianne are on a prenatal visit to Molly Egelind and Benjamin Hasselflug. In the home of the – for second time – new parents, we sit down in their bright living room with a cup of coffee, to continue the conversation about stem cells we have had in the weeks leading up to the birth. Wilma, their beautiful baby, sleeps soundly in Molly’s arms.
Planned Caesarean section
Six weeks ago, Molly and Benjamin’s second daughter was born by planned Caesarean section due to placenta previa. This means that the placenta had moved in front of the cervix and in such a situation a Caesarean section is the only option. Today, they both feel very grateful for the competent people they met in the health sector, from midwives and nurses to the doctors who performed the C-section. But one thing has left them wondering.
Although it was Molly and Benjamin’s second time expecting, they were never made aware of the possibility of collecting stem cells.
Molly says that when the couple realised their daughter was going to be born by Caesarean section, she dove into all the information about the operation she could get her hands on, both from publicly available sources and her own friends who had had the same experience themselves. But nowhere did she come across information about stem cells. Benjamin adds that he had indeed heard about the research, but he didn’t get the impression that it was widely known. He also readily admits that his own knowledge of the subject was rather superficial. He had no idea how the collection was actually made, but he knew there were “almost miraculous treatment possibilities” in stem cell research. But since he wrongly thought the collection of stem cells was linked to fetuses or fertilised eggs, it created an immediate ethical problem with the research “and so, as for many people the discussion probably kind of stopped there.”
Stem cells after birth
After contacting Cellaviva, however, the parents realised that the collection of stem cells takes place completely without intervention, either before the placenta have been expelled or after. It simply a matter of saving the cells or letting them be discarded. During the birth, Henriette was the midwife from Cellaviva who met the couple at the hospital and collected the stem cells after the Caesarean section.
“Imagine,” says Benjamin, “how many painful and lengthy symptom treatments you might be able to avoid in the future. It’s amazing that you can get your own stem cell resource completely without ethical considerations, because it comes from the placenta and umbilical cord, which would just be thrown away anyway.”
It actually surprised him that there is such a high concentration of stem cells in the umbilical cord and also that it is possible to have them stored for later use. “Why don’t you hear about this, when you are expecting a child?” he asks.
Henriette and Mianne say they spend a lot of time informing people about stem cell collection. Among other things, via Instagram, where they inform pregnant women every week about the possibility of collecting and storing stem cells, along with an invitation to contact them if you want more information. But while the two midwives are working hard to spread the word, it’s not reaching every pregnant woman, which is why we’re happy Molly and Benjamin want to get involved. “Luckily you wrote to me,” says Molly. “Imagine if I hadn’t discovered Cellaviva…”
Molly and Benjamin agree that they think you should at least be informed about the possibility of stem cell collection by your midwife or doctor when you are pregnant. “Maybe it’s because they don’t want to inform about private offers when you are employed in the public sector,” says Benjamin. Which leads us on to the next issue we’re going to talk about.
Public stem cell bank
None of the four gathered in the room understands why Denmark doesn’t have a public stem cell bank. Molly thinks out loud that if there were a public stem cell bank, along the lines of blood banks, sperm banks or donor milk depots, people could participate through donor programmes. Then, when the need arose, stem cells from the public stem cell bank would be available.
Our hope is also that as more and more people demand the private offering, it will end up being a similar solution. The dream for the future in this field, all four agree, is a publicly available stem cell bank. This would only strengthen the healthcare field. “You will eventually be able to treat a lot of common diseases,” says Benjamin. All four agree that it should be free for everyone, or at least subsidised, like dental care.
Wilma wakes up and, as is always the case, she takes all the focus.
“It’s actually really nice that you’ve been here,” says Molly, and Henriette feels the same way. It’s nice to know how the Cellaviva family is doing afterwards, and we have the most beautiful pictures of the families hanging in our office. Now Molly, Benjamin and baby Wilma are hanging there too.