Once considered as waste materials that were discarded soon after the birth of the baby, today the umbilical cord and the placenta have become precious resources of cord blood stem cells. Stem cells are unspecialized cells that have the ability to transform into any one of the different types of cells found in the human body.
Since the late 1980s, extensive research work has been performed in the field of Reparative Medicine. All of these studies indicate that cord blood stem cells have the potential of curing various types of genetic disorders, cancers and blood disorders. At present, cord blood stem cell transplant therapy has been used for the treatment of more than 70 congenital and acquired diseases.
Owing to the increasing significance of cord blood stem cells in the treatment of life threatening diseases, several public cord blood banks as well as private cord blood banks have appeared on the scene. As a result, cord blood donation or storage has become a common occurrence for families. Yet, many families are put off of storing their child’s umbilical cord blood because of the associated costs of private storage. Although the fees can seem daunting at first, it is important to understand just what those costs cover.
Going Public or Private: The Difference in Cord Blood Banks
Donating cord blood to a public cord blood bank is quite different from preserving it in a private cord blood bank. If you decide to donate your child’s cord blood to a public bank, you should keep in mind that it will not be accessible for your exclusive use. In fact, it will be made available to all those patients who are searching for a perfect stem cell match.
Due to this issue, most parents opt for private cord blood banks. However, unlike public banks where no fees are involved for the processing and storage of the cord blood, private banks ask those interested in storing their child’s cord blood with them to pay an initial fee in addition to yearly storage fees.
Why do Private Cord Blood Banks Charge a Fee?
Basically, private cord blood banks charge a fee to meet the following overheads involved in preserving your child’s cord blood:
- Expenses involved in processing the cord blood
- Costs associated with the maintenance of laboratory facilities
- Expenses generated while imparting training to the employees
- Employee’s salaries
- Advertising overheads
- Accreditation expenses
Among these overheads, the accreditation process is the most expensive. Yet, any reputable private cord blood bank will need to have accreditation, ideally from the American Association of Blood Banks. Once accreditation has been obtained, the private bank will then have to abide by the rules and regulations spelled out by the accrediting body, and in doing so, additional operating costs are generated.
All of these costs makeup the initial fee that can be as much as $2000 as well as the approximately $100 per year for storage.
What Should I Consider When Selecting a Private Cord Blood Bank?
Either consciously or subconsciously, price will be a major concern for you when you decide to preserve your child’s cord blood in a private cord blood bank. During your search for an appropriate private bank, you will encounter several inexpensive banks. While it will be tempting to go with the cheapest bank, it is worthwhile to do a bit more research on the bank. Often, though not always, lower priced cord blood banks fail to have reliable facilities needed to store the cord blood safely.
It is advisable not to consider just the price tag of a cord blood bank. Instead, you should weigh each private cord blood bank against such factors as:
- Is the private cord blood bank accredited?
- What is the condition of the laboratories and equipments?
- Are the personnel handling the cord blood trained?
- Are there adequate facilities to store the cord blood for a long period of time?
- What is the reputation of the private bank?
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Try to find out the experiences of other parents with a particular private cord blood bank, and remember to seek the advise of your doctor while selecting a private cord blood bank.
What are Private Banks Doing to Make Their Services More Affordable?
It is difficult to predict what the future holds with regards to private cord blood bank fees. However, several banks have become conscious that the upfront cost is too high for many and that some parents simply can’t afford it.
To solve this problem, as well as encourage parents to consider cord blood preservation, private cord blood banks are offering discounts and various types of payment plans to suit every prospective parent’s pocket. Additionally, if you are considered to be a family "in need," you may just be able to store your child’s cord blood stem cells for free.
If you are considering privately banking your child’s cord blood, be sure to ask every bank that you are looking at what type of pricing plans and options they offer.