A high percentage of today’s parents rightly consider cord blood banking to be a priceless investment. After their birth, the babies don’t require the umbilical cord or placenta. However, residual blood can be a lifesaver for patients suffering from several critical health conditions. Cord blood derives its extraordinary capabilities from the presence of blood-forming stem cells in it. Just like bone marrow transplants, cord blood cells can also be transplanted to save lives of people suffering from different life-threatening diseases such as leukemia.
As far as cord blood banking is concerned, there are two different options. One of the options is to store cord blood in a public bank. Those looking to use the cord blood exclusively for the use of their family may opt for private banking. Before you take any decision, it is important to consider a few important points.
Points to Consider about Public Banking:
The primary objective of public cord blood banking is to support the entire community. The donated cord blood is preserved for patients that may require a stem cell transplant in the future. The registry of donors in the United States is known as “Be the Match.” Individuals suffering from rare genetic conditions have a higher probability of receiving cord blood transplants. Parents can make a public donation of cord blood at specific hospitals authorized to accept them. Public banking of cord blood is highly recommended by both the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
The most important point to consider about public donation is that the cord blood can’t be reserved for the family of the donor. Therefore, it may not be available for the future use of the family.
However, public banking of cord blood has some great benefits.
- Public banking of cord blood is absolutely free.
- Stems cells are available to anyone in need of them.
- Increases the diversity and number of cord blood units available to people. Therefore, finding the right match is easier.
Those interested in donating cord blood for public use must remember that their blood will be tested for infectious diseases as well as genetic abnormalities. They will be notified, in case any issues are found.
Points to Consider about Private Banking:
Private cord blood banking creates an opportunity for parents to preserve their baby’s cord blood, to be used by the baby or a family member in the future. The cord blood is owned exclusively by the family and they can decide how it will be used.
Though the idea of excusive ownership of the cord blood may appear to be lucrative, there are certain limitations of private banking.
- The cost of collection and storage can be extremely high.
- In some instances, other viable treatments may be available at a lower cost.
- The probability of the donor’s child or family using privately banked cord blood is extremely low.
- Stem cell transplants using the cord blood of an individual donor is not suitable for treating genetic disorders such as thalassemia and sickle cell disease. This is due to the fact that the genetic mutations responsible for these disorders are also present in the cord blood of the baby.
As a result of the limitations discussed, in the last two decades, there have only been very few autologous cord blood transplants in United States. On the other hand, the figure is much higher for unrelated donor cord blood transplants.
In short, private cord blood storage as a form of biological insurance” is not always a good idea because its remote benefits may not justify the high cost. However, private cord blood banking can be a great alternative for babies with unknown medical background. This applies to babies that are adopted or conceived with the help of sperm or egg donation. The AAP also recommends private cord blood banking for families that have a history of genetic or malignant conditions that are treatable by cord blood stem cells.