There are only two options: public and private cord blood banks. Choosing between the two requires careful consideration as they both serve different purposes.
If, after much contemplation, you decide to partake
in cord blood or umbilical cord banking, a procedure in which blood from the umbilical cord and placenta is
preserved for future therapeutic use, the next step is to decide where you want
to store the blood.
At the moment, there are only two options: public
or government-funded cord blood banks and private cord blood banks. However,
choosing between the two requires careful consideration as they serve
fundamentally different purposes, which are described below.
There are various advantages to banking in private
cord blood banks. The first and most important of these is the fact that the
cord blood is reserved for exclusive use by the donor and his/her family
members (should the need arise).
This is advantageous as it leads to either a
guaranteed (if used in the same child; an autologous transplant) or increased
likelihood (if used in a relative; an allogenic transplant) of matching.
Additionally, while one may find a match in a public bank, cord blood
transplants from a relative are generally much more successful. Lastly, there
is typically no additional charge for transporting samples to a hospital or
facility when a transplant is needed.
However, there are also disadvantages to private
banking. The most obvious among these is the hefty cost of storage, which is
comprised of an initial fee of $1600 to $3000 as well as an annual storage fee
of around $100 to $200 per year the blood is stored. Furthermore, there are
cases in which cord blood cannot be used as a treatment.
This typically is the case with genetic diseases as
the factor(s) that cause the disease would also be present in the cord blood
stem cells. For example, in the case of sickle cell anemia, a genetic condition
in which individuals have abnormally-shaped red blood cells (RBCs, or
erythrocytes), an autologous cord blood transplant (i.e. one in which the donor
is the recipient) would not be effective as the stem cells in the cord blood
would themselves be affected.
Additionally, the odds that your child or a relative
would need to use the privately banked sample is very slim. Nevertheless,
private banking should be a strong consideration if there is a family history
of treatable diseases, if a related individual is
suffering from a treatable illness, or is in need of a stem cell transplant.
On the other hand, public or government-funded cord
blood banks store cord blood (that meets the required criteria) without any
cost to the donor. However, the drastic price difference between private and
public banks comes with the caveat that blood stored in public banks is a
donation that may be used by any individual with a need as well as for
research, and, therefore, is not guaranteed to be available to you in a time of
Yet, this disadvantage is offset by the fact that
your donation may be able to help others who are in need. Furthermore, if after
donation to a public bank, you are in a situation that requires a stem cell
transplant, it is important to understand that public banks will always
endeavor to find the best match, including the original donation given that it
is still available.
Other disadvantages of donating to a public bank
include the fact that the cost for transporting the sample to the hospital or
facility where the transplant is occurring is typically not covered.
Additionally, only a limited number of hospitals provide the option to donate to
public cord blood banks. Furthermore, if your facility does allow the donation
of cord blood, there is a very high probability that your donation will be
discarded due to a failure to meet the required criteria.
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