Its amazing what you learn meeting new friends. Last night I discovered that parents in America are being urged to keep and store their babies’ umbilical cord. It’s a growing and successful business with more than 27 storage companies, up from about 12 three years ago.

According to CBS news; Cord Blood Registry said the number of units it stores has risen 40 percent to 50 percent in each of the last few years and now totals about 60,000. CorCell Inc. said that in one year, its client base grew 100 percent and that it now stores over 8,000 units. LifebankUSA said it adds thousands of new clients annually, storing about 20,000 units.

It’s not cheap either. There is an initial fee of around $1200-$2000 and a storage fee of around a $100 a month for each one. But parents are made to feel guilty if they do not do it. I vaguely thought I knew that this would have to be to do with stem cell research but was amazed to realise just how much can be done already.

Using stem cells from the cord, doctors can treat more than 80 life threatening diseases, including cancers, leukemia, bone marrow, sickle-cell anemia and many other blood and genetic issues. Right now research is also going into using stem cells to also deal with type-1 diabetes, sports injuries, heart disease and more. The use of stem cells to treat children is compelling.

But what is truly, really amazing is what is going to be possible in the not too distant future. Because researchers have wondered why if Starfish, salamanders, and planarian flatworms can regenerate body parts, they shouldn’t humans be able to do the same? Using stem cells to kick start the process humans may be able to do just this.

As long ago as 2009 Popular Mechanics wrote an article listing 5 body parts you may be able to regrow. They focused on fixing damaged hearts, lab grown lungs, regenerated spinal cords, recreating breast issue and most stunningly re-growing arms and legs.

My wife tells me that when she passes she wants to be frozen so that she might be able to be brought back. I already covered whether that is a good idea here. But it seems that in the meantime all parents should find the money to store umbilical cords and that this is indeed a very good business to be in.