Donation vs. Private Storage

If you are considering preserving your child's stem cells, you may be wondering whether you should choose a private bank or a public cord blood bank. In order to make the right decision for you, it is important to learn just what differentiates these two types of stem cell banks.

Is Cord Blood Stem Cells Banking Necessary?

Studies have revealed that only 1 in 20,000 patients actually needs stem cell transplant therapy. If we take into consideration this statistics, then it may seem as though cord blood stem cell preservation is not seem necessary for most.

Nevertheless, it is always beneficial to err on the side of caution and get those cord blood stem cells preserved. If you have a family history of certain types of genetic and blood disorders, including anaemia, immune system disorder, and leukemia, then it would be wise to consider privately banking your child’s umbilical cord stem cells. This simple action can act as a type of life insurance for your entire family.

Additionally, because it can be especially difficult to find a perfect donor match, people belonging to African-Americans, Hispanics and other non-Caucasians races are advised to bank their babies cord blood stem cells.

What is the Difference Between Public and Private Cord Blood Bank?

In terms of the collection process, there is little difference between a public and private cord blood bank. Both types of banks will use either a needle to collect blood into a sterile bag or a syringe to collect umbilical blood into vials. The difference between these two types banks, though, lies in the manner in which the cord blood is used after the initial collection.

With respect to the public cord blood bank, the cord blood stem cells may either be used for research purposes (in the case of a for-profit public banks) or be given to a patient who requires it urgently (in the case of non-profit public banks). If you have donated your child’s cord blood to a non-profit cord blood bank, it will be given to the first in-need patient the blood matches. It will not be reserved for you and your family.

If you have given your child’s stem cells to a for-profit public bank, then these stem cells will likely be sold within a few weeks for scientific testing.

Private cord blood banks, on the other hand, provide parents with the option to collect and store their baby’s cord blood stem cells. These stem cells are reserved specifically for you and your family and cannot be used by anyone else at anytime. When the time comes for you to use these stem cells in treatment, you will just need to contact your cord blood bank and they will immediately ship your stem cells safely to the desired location.

Another major difference between the public and private cord blood bank is pricing. A non-profit public cord blood bank will earn its revenues from humanitarian donations and remunerations obtained from patients who urgently need perfectly matched cord blood stem cells. A for-profit public bank may also cover its costs by selling your stem cells to scientists and research facilities. For these reasons, public banks do not charge a fee when you donate your baby’s cord blood.

Private cord blood banks do charge fees for processing and storing cord blood stem cells. For most private banks, the one time, up-front fee is approximately $2000 while the yearly storage fee averages about $100. These charges help a private cord blood bank to cover their numerous costs such as accreditation, advertising, equipment upkeep, and other similar overheads.

Pros and Cons of Public and Private Cord Blood Banks

Half of the HLA-antigens in a baby’s cord blood come from each parent. Therefore, a baby’s cord blood will be a good match for immediate family members. If, coincidentally, both parents have the same HLA-antigens, then the cord blood will be a better match for a parent or the child himself as the risk of transplant rejection and graft vs. host disease is drastically reduced. Thus, one’s own cord blood is always a good choice for stem cell transplantation, and only a private cord blood bank can make it available in your hour of need.

However, studies have revealed that only 25% of in-need patients are able to find a match in their family. The remaining 75% have to depend upon the public cord blood banks for cord blood stem cells.

Furthermore, if a child suffers from genetic or blood disorders, then their own cord blood is not suitable for stem cell transplant therapy because the stem cells and their progeny will be affected by the same disorder. For instance, if a child suffers from leukemia, then his cord blood stem cells will also carry the same leukemic mutation, hence these cord blood stem cells cannot be used for transplantation. In such cases, public cord blood banks are the only source of viable cord blood stem cells for a patient.

Banking cord blood stem cells is not a light decision. Be sure to thoroughly discuss with your partner whether private or public cord blood banking is right for you.

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