Due to advances in the medical field, some people now choose to collect and preserve the blood that is present in their newborn baby's umbilical cord rather than throw it away upon birth. This is because it has been discovered that cord blood can help save the life of the baby, those related, or even non-relatives in need of blood. Parents of the baby have the choice of keeping the blood in a private bank to be used for the infant, offering it to a public blood bank, saving it for a family member in need, or donating it to be used for medical research. Cord blood storage is available at many hospitals, often for a fee depending on how it is to be used.
Many parents that opt for cord blood storage choose to save it for their infant in a private family blood bank. This is in case the baby needs a blood transfusion later in life, due to either illness or an injury. Choosing this cord blood storage option allows parents the peace of mind that their baby will have access to his own cord blood, guaranteeing that he has an immediate match when he needs it. There is usually a charge for a collection kit and storage of the blood, both of which can be quite significant.
The cord blood can also be saved for use on a biological relative in need. Some people living with certain diseases can benefit from a cord blood transplant, and the parents of a newborn baby can offer this by making a directed donation to a family member with a medical issue. This route is usually either free or less expensive than donating to a private family blood bank.
Parents who want to make a difference without having to pay cord blood storage costs can donate it to a public cord blood bank. This makes it available for use by anyone who needs it. This cord blood storage option is often best for those who cannot afford to collect the blood for their own private bank, but do not want to throw the blood away upon their baby's birth. The collection kit for this option is typically free.
The final cord blood storage option is to donate it to the medical community to be used for research. Many laboratories run studies that strive to help them smooth the transplant process so that it is easier and more successful in the future. Any blood that is donated to the public fund, but which does not meet strict transplant requirements may be offered to laboratories upon the parents' permission. Choosing this route is typically free.