Enlarge / A little needlework and blood has never looked better. (credit: © MaricorMaricar @ Handsome Frank) Transplanted umbilical cord blood can be used to treat or cure more than 80 conditions, from leukemia to sickle-cell disease.

For Mosaic, Bryn Nelson follows the story of one man, Chris.

After being diagnosed with leukemia in his early 40s, his best chance of survival comes in the form of blood from three babies he’ll never meet, nor even know the names of. This article was first published by Wellcome on Mosaic and is republished here under a Creative Commons licence.

TA few hours before beginning chemotherapy, a man named Chris faces his cellphone camera with a mischievous smile and describes a perfectly absurd milestone at 1.37pm on a Wednesday. “There is no more beautiful moment in a man’s life…” he says with puckish glee.

Because how can you not laugh when you’ve been invited to bank your sperm in advance of being “Godzilla-ed” with chemotherapy and radiation, all just four days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at the age of 43 and given a 5 to 15 percent chance of survival?
Oh, and the fertility clinic forgot to send someone over with a specimen kit and they’re closing in little more than 20 minutes so you have to fire up your iPad for some quick visual stimulation to help you fill a sterile tube. Just try to ignore the legal consent paperwork all around you and the catheter that’s been surgically inserted into your jugular vein.
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