Many have heard about the possibility of banking newborn’s cord blood, but as a parent now expecting it can be overwhelming sorting out the details and trying to get accurate information. I have tried to sort it all out here and simplify it so you can make the decision that is right for you. Like anything, always talk to your doctor or midwife about whether any of these options are safe and appropriate for you.

There are three options regarding cord blood banking, private options, public options and doing neither.

Private Cord Blood banking has become a major industry with Viacord and Cord Blood Registry being the two that are most widely respected. Both of these companies offer a similar product but to vary so it is worth calling both and getting their stories if you are considering this option – and interestingly, they will often price match each other so it is worth asking about this. Private banking is based on the premise that you are buying something similar to an insurance policy if your child is to become sick with certain types of illnesses in the future. Many life-threatening illnesses have been treated by using a child’s or sibling’s cord blood and there are more potential applications for usage in the future. The upside is obvious, if your child develops a life threatening illness, their cord blood or a siblings’ might be able to help them, although it is not always a match or able to be used. The downside is high as well. It is very expensive. Usually it costs about $2000, give or take, for the initial startup and a $150-$250 to maintain the storage every year. This adds up to quite a bit just by your child’s 18th birthday for something your child or sibling has a slight chance of needing.

As for donating your baby’s cord blood to a public bank, you would think it would be easy. If you are delivering at a hospital that takes part in the public banking program, then you are able to donate provided that you are before 34 weeks of pregnancy, pass a medical and background screen, your OB is willing to perform the sample. If you are not delivering at one of these participating hospitals (which most hospitals fall in this category) there are only 4 agencies that send and process collection kits and there are about 300-400 of these kits available every month to the entire country. That’s it. So even if you are due in 10 weeks, if these collection kit agencies have hit their quota then public banking is not a possibility for you. According to from the www.marrow.org, approximately 35% of the collected samples have to be discarded due to high standards of what is worth banking long-term. Understand that if you publicly bank your child’s blood you no longer have access to it. It will be available for anyone who has a life-threatening illness that can be treated, is a match and qualifies to receive it.

Third, you may opt to do neither. Ultimately, by weighing your options and speaking with your doctor/midwife you will make the right decision.

Below are the sites to learn more about public and private banking:

www.viacord.com http://www.viacord.com
www.cordbloodregistry.com http://www.cordbloodregistry.com
http://marrow.org/Get_Involved/Donate_Cord_Blood/Donate_Cord_Blood.aspx
Public Kit Collection Program -Carolinas Cord Blood Bank (919) 668-2071