Umbilical cord blood banking offers parents a chance to store a newborn's stem cell-rich umbilical blood at the time of birth. Stem cells are used to treat certain medical conditions. The two main types of umbilical cord blood banking are private banks and public banks. Parents can also choose to donate the cord blood for stem cell research at a public bank. There are several considerations when cord blood banking, including ownership of the cord blood, cost, and use of the cord blood.
Donating cord blood to a public cord bank is free to the family. The blood is collected after birth and taken to the public cord bank, where it is stored until it is needed. The family has no ownership over the blood once it is donated to the public facility. The stem cells can be used by anyone who is a match for a stem cell transplant. The family might be able to use the cord blood if it is still available in the future, but there are no guarantees.
A private cord blood bank, sometimes called a family bank, allows the family to own the blood while the bank handles the storage. The family decides how it is used. The private umbilical cord blood banking option typically comes with a large price tag. The cost to collect and process the cord blood is usually between $1,000 and $2,000 US Dollars (USD). The family usually pays an additional yearly fee to cover storage of the cord blood, commonly between $100 and $150 USD.
The research option also means parents give up ownership of the cord blood. Umbilical cord blood banking with a research bank is free to parents. The cord blood is then used for stem cell research.
The umbilical cord blood is collected in the same manner, whether it goes to a public, private, or research bank. A kit is used to collect the blood from the umbilical cord shortly after birth. An obstetrician or nurse usually handles this procedure. The blood is sent to the selected bank via courier for processing and storage, which involves freezing it with liquid nitrogen.
The pros and cons of umbilical cord blood banking are a consideration, whether private or public banking is chosen. While the family decides how the cord blood is used in a private situation, there might not ever be a reason to use it. If the disease requiring the stem cell transplant is genetic, the child's own stem cells usually cannot be used since they would reintroduce the disease. Siblings are more likely to be a match, but the cost is sometimes not feasible for the slim chance the cord blood will be used.