Desmond graduated from Princeton University and subsequently obtained a graduate law degree. He never practiced as a lawyer and opted to work in finance instead. After working in private banking for a number of years, he decided to move into the entertainment business to pursue a career as television presenter. Although many of you may know Desmond from his long-running lifestyle and luxury television program and as events emcee, Desmond is also a seasoned corporate trainer who founded and runs his own training business. His workshops cover topics such as business etiquette, communications techniques, interview skills, and dining etiquette and his audiences range from C-suite executives to tech entrepreneurs to university students and even children from time to time.
In May this year, Desmond announced that he and his wife were expecting, adding “parent-to-be” to his list of roles. A regular sports enthusiast who is serious about his health, Desmond, not surprisingly, also put the health and well-being of his baby as a priority and started to explore the storage of cord blood and cord tissue early in the pregnancy. Recently, Desmond sat down and spoke with us about what he’s been up to, his decision to store cord blood and cord tissue, and why he chose Smart Cells.
1. How are you recently?
Well, it feels like I’ve quit all my work to become a full-time father! Adjusting to fatherhood is definitely a challenge and very time-consuming, especially since my wife and I made a conscious decision to be as hands-on as possible. I am lucky to have pretty good control of my own schedule and have been moving full steam ahead with my corporate training and television work. For the emcee part of my life, it has definitely been heavily impacted, as has the entire live events business, and this has inspired me to develop skills and explore new avenues – now, a lot of my work in this area has transitioned from live events to virtual or hybrid ones, which fortuitously combine the skills from all three areas of my professional work.
2. How did you find out about storing your baby’s stem cells?
My knowledge of cord blood and cord tissue storage came from conversations with friends. They were not in-depth discussions but prompted me to do more research on the subject matter.
3. Why did you decide to store your baby’s stem cells?
My wife and I decided to take the step of storing our baby’s cord blood and cord tissue because of the tremendous potential benefits that stem cells contained within them bring. Together cord blood and cord tissue can help treat different illnesses, diseases, cancers, anaemias, and inherited metabolic disorders. What’s more, something completely unbeknownst to us before is that a child’s cord blood and cord tissue can be deployed to help with illnesses in siblings as well as parents.
4. What has your experience been like with Smart Cells?
We had zero doubt about Smart Cells dependability and quality of the product – otherwise, we would not have chosen the company in the first place. Where they exceeded our expectations was in their ability to deal with contingencies. As everyone knows, 2020 is a special year as COVID-19 has completely transformed our businesses, society, and way of living. Because Smart Cells stores cord blood and cord tissue in a proprietary facility near London’s main airport, even though we were having our baby in Hong Kong, we were worried that there would not be flights to London from Hong Kong given that airlines have been severely impacted by the coronavirus. Our contact at Smart Cells assured us from the onset that Smart Cell’s delivery chain would be intact and that there would be no disruption to service. I took this with a grain of salt, assuming that whether planes get off the ground is beyond the control of a stem cell company. However, my fears were assuaged – there were no delays, no interruptions, and a dedicated courier came to the hospital a few hours after my wife delivered to collect the samples. Hong Kong headquarters then informed me by email the same day that our collected samples were already on a plane en route to London and that we could expect a report on sample size and quality in five days. Well, that report arrived after three days. Delivering ahead of schedule during a global pandemic crisis is something that deeply impressed us.
5. Did the process work as you had expected it to? Did you find it to be an easy process?
Absolutely. The entire process is actually very simple and a Smart Cells representative sends simple emails at designated times to keep you informed of what to expect next. She even tracked our due date and reminded us to be sure to bring the collection kit to the hospital a few days before we hit week 37.
6. Are there any obstacles that would have prevented you from using our service?
I was a bit worried that stem cells not stored in Hong Kong would affect my ability to use them. However, the Stem Cells storage facility is very close to Heathrow Airport, meaning that they could get needed cord blood and cord tissue to Hong Kong in a short period of time.
7. How important do you think it is to raise awareness on the benefits of storing umbilical cord blood stem cells?
Yes, I think it would be good to increase the public’s knowledge of cord blood and cord tissue storage. The science behind it is extremely complicated and it’d be hard for us to understand it without medical training. However, we can all learn about the benefits of storage as well as the potential illnesses, diseases, and inherited metabolic disorders that cord blood and cord tissue can help treat.
8. What would you say to a friend or colleague who was thinking of using Smart Cells?
I have no hesitation in recommending Smart Cells to any of my friends who are considering embarking on the wonderful journey of parenthood.
9. What would be your advice to any parents who are looking into storing their baby’s stem cells?
Do your research. The cost of cord blood and cord tissue storage is not insignificant so some parents may determine that the costs of the service outweigh the benefits to them. I firmly believe that parents should never be pressured into thinking any product or service is absolutely essential and that they should feel guilty if they did not provide it to their child (we often see pressure-selling tactics used on parents in Hong Kong). The decision whether to use the cord blood and cord tissue storage should be discussed and you owe it to yourself, as parents, and your child to be informed and educated.