Private VS Public Cord Blood Banking Review

Private VS Public Cord Blood BankingThere are two kinds of cord blood storage facilities: public cord blood banks and private cord blood banks. These facilities perform the same basic function of providing a safe place to store precious donated umbilical cord blood for possible use in future stem cell transplants. There are a couple of very important differences between the two though that are important to understand.
First, what is the same?

The physical process of collecting the cord blood is basically the same.  In both cases the umbilical cord will be clamped, cut and the blood drained into a sterile container.  From there the blood is transported to a blood bank where it will be cryogenically frozen in nitrogen at a temperature of roughly -190⁰ Celsius.  At such a low temperature all molecular movement ceases thus ensuring the ability to use the blood in the future for an indefinite amount of time.

What’s the difference between the two options? The first major difference is the future availability of the umbilical cord blood to the baby, or family member who may need a genetically-matched donor for a cord blood transplant.

With a public cord blood bank, the child and family will be given no future access to the child’s donated blood.  Once the blood has been processed within a couple of days after collection, the donor’s information is deleted as a matter of privacy, as with any other donated organ.  This is important to consider if your family has a history of genetic disorders or diseases where stem cell transplants have been found to be an effective treatment.

If there is a chance that the child will need the blood later in life, or if a family member is in need of a transplant.  You should consider using a private cord blood bank.  Using a private cord blood bank ensures that your family will always have access to the blood, that you will be able to retrieve it whenever necessary, and that it will be a genetic match to your child.

Going the private cord blood banking route will cost you though.  Private cord blood banks on average charge between $1,000-$2,000 up front, in addition to monthly storage fees that can be in the $60-$100+ range.  Alternatively, using a public cord blood bank is entirely free.

Public cord blood banks are a great option if you are simply interested in making a donation that can help save someone’s life.  These donations go towards helping people with leukemia and other possibly terminal conditions.  It is for this reason that you can donate your baby’s cord blood free of charge.  It is important to note though that not all hospitals are affiliated with a public cord blood bank.  You can check that though by simply asking your doctor. In the case that your hospital is not affiliated with a public cord blood bank, you will have to contact one and work out a way for them to collect the blood, again, free of charge.

It is also worth noting that the requirements of a public cord blood bank are usually a bit more stringent than those of a private cord blood bank, as the cord blood is destined for a wider range of use outside the child’s family circle.  Rest assured though that your baby’s cord blood will go to good use.  If it is found that the cord blood unit is unfit for use in a blood transplant, it will be used for testing to improve the process in the future.

To determine if you’re eligible to donate blood to a public cord blood bank you will have to fill out a health questionnaire regarding your medical history and give a blood sample to check for certain diseases.  The process for using a private cord blood bank will be less stringent.


Benefits of Cord Blood Banking

The primary benefit to cord blood banking is that it provides a type of medical insurance. This insurance is not from a financial perspective, but rather takes the form of having the necessary medical building blocks available should they be needed in the event of certain illnesses and diseases. Those medical building blocks are the stem cells found in umbilical cord blood.

In the past years, there have been dramatic medical advances in the arena of stem cell research, and more discoveries are announced practically every month. Many doctors and researchers see great potential in the use of stem cells to reverse or cure many severe, life-threatening diseases. With these facts in mind, many parents are choosing to preserve the stems cells found in umbilical cord blood after birth. There are no health risks in doing so. The primary risk is that the yearly $100 fee for storage will be wasted in the event that the stem cells are never needed.

More and more parents are taking notice of the advances in stem cell research. Here are some highlights:

Transplant science is constantly improving. Several companies are bringing to market methods of “expanding” the stem cell population in the laboratory, and these methods are starting to be applied in clinical trials.

The evolution from pluripotent stem cells down to blood stem cells is currently poorly understood. The latest indication is that, under the right conditions, stem cells in cord blood can be teased to grow into other types of tissue besides blood. This would open up an entire new realm of potential treatment through the use of stem cells.

As a result of these advances, it is not unreasonable to hope that cord blood may eventually be used to treat a wider variety of auto-immune and degenerative diseases than is currently being done. If so, (and there are solid indications by researchers that this indeed is the case), it makes perfect sense to consider private cord blood banking.

The arguments in favor of private banking are several:

1. As today’s children grow up and some of them develop cancer as adults, autologous (self) cord blood transplants will become more common used. Pediatric cancers and adult cancers are completely different diseases at the cellular level (to learn more about cancer visit the website of the National Cancer Institute). While pediatric cancer patients rarely receive autologous transplants, among adult cancer patients the autologous transplants are more common than transplants from donors.

2. Recent news reports constantly announce new medical advances using stem cells. Future applications will probably include tissue repair to various organs of the body.

3. Families should consider is whether the odds given for the “average baby” apply to them. Some families do have a higher predisposition to cancer and immune disorders, and would be far more likely to benefit from cord blood banking than the statistics indicate.

4. If your family, especially your children, are of mixed ethnic background, it may be impossible to find an adult bone marrow donor who is a perfect match. In that event, cord blood from even a partially matched sibling would be invaluable if a stem cell transplant is necessary.


Clinical Research

stem cells treatment

Heart disease is one of the deadliest killers in the world to date. Congestive heart failure, a condition found secondary to many major cardiac diseases, possesses its own high mortality rate. Fifty percent of those diagnosed with congestive heart failure will die within the five following years. Scientists and researchers are struggling to understand the exact mechanisms of the disease, and to find a cure.

Congestive heart failure results as the cells in the heart die or become non-functioning due to an event such as a myocardial infarction (a heart attack) or ischemic heart disease. Whatever the cause, the heart is subsequently unable to pump blood adequately throughout the body, resulting in the blood pooling in the organs and fluid building up in and around the lungs as sodium is unable to be properly excreted, causing the dyspnea that is the classic symptom of congestive heart failure.

Clinical research is targeted at both the treatment of the disease and the possibility of repairing the damaged cells in the heart. Current research is underway to test new medications that would assist in vasodilation, as well as a calcium inhibitor that would not result in the higher incidence of cardiac arrhythmia seen with the medications currently on the market.

In the age of natural medicine, the power of the mind has been invoked in clinical trials to use meditation and relaxation techniques to combat the stress on the heart that can be the breaking point for patients with heart failure. Stress has been shown to negatively affect the body’s blood pressure, forcing the heart to work harder and placing an undue amount of pressure on an already weakened muscle. The theory lies in the belief that by learning to maintain a low level of mental stress the heart will be less stressed and therefore less likely to fail completely, and the patient can be given a better prognosis.

Alongside the return to natural, holistic methods of treatment is an incredible advancement in clinical technology that was not available twenty or thirty years ago. Scientists claim to have identified a set of altered genes that can make an individual more disposed to suffer from congestive heart failure and are using their current knowledge of genes and the benefits of gene therapy to attempt to reverse the effect. In addition, medications to tamp down on the genes’ activities, such as beta blockers and alpha-2 agonists are already available and being used in treatment programs.

Also being explored is the possibility of using stem cells, the body’s pluripotent progenitors, to assist in re-paration of the damaged heart tissue. Clinical trials showed that patients suffering from congestive heart failure responded very favorably to an injection of their own stem cells into the heart, although the exact means by which this causes improvement is as yet unknown. It is suspected that these cells either facilitate the growth of new vessels in the heart or act as a beacon, attracting the body’s own healing cells to the site of the damage and stimulating repair.

The possibility of actually growing healthy tissue from embryonic stem cells to be transplanted is also being explored, although the controversial nature of the use of embryonic stem cells due to the necessary destruction of the embryo makes this questionable in the foreseeable future. Scientists have determined that adult stem cells simply cannot provide an adequate number of new cells to meet the needs of patients who have suffered heart failure.

Heart failure is incredibly dangerous because the body cannot reproduce the dead tissue cells in the heart; however, with modern advancements it is the great hope of researchers everywhere to one day find a cure.


Treatable Diseases with Stem Cells

Adult or multipotent stem cells have been used to treat many different diseases, including these:

  • Chronic leukemias
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Stem cell disorders
  • Myeloproliferative disorders
  • Lymphoproliferative disorders
  • Phagocyte disorders
  • Liposomal storage disorders
  • Inherited erythrocyte abnormalities
  • Congenital immune system disorders
  • Inherited platelet abnormalities
  • Plasma cell disorders
  • Brain tumors
  • Breast cancer
  • Ewing sarcoma
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Ovarian and small-cell lung cancers
  • Renal cell carcinoma
  • Testicular cancer autoimmune diseases
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Strokes

Medical research is underway to find new uses for stem cells and their applications in healing other diseases.

Banking cord blood will ensure that your baby will have their own stem cells if a transplant or stem cell therapy is ever needed. However, with some childhood diseases, autologous transplants (transplants from the same individual receiving the cells) are not recommended by medical professionals.

 

Donating cord blood will allow your baby’s cord blood to be considered for anybody’s transplant needs across the country, particularly among those who cannot find a bone marrow match. Donation can make more research possible in order to find therapies for or even eradicate these deadly diseases.


Cord Blood Banking Options

Public banking vs. Private banking

Many public banking proponents believe that the greater good to society is to donate your baby’s cord blood stem cells to a public bank for use by someone who may need it, since the likelihood of your baby needing it is very small.

Many private banking proponents think that by storing your baby’s cord blood stem cells, you are positioning your family with a form of biological insurance in the event that your child or a close family member has a treatable disease.

  • Donate for research
  • Donate for Community
  • Store for Your Safe-keeping
  • Discard as Medical Waste

 Opinion of CBO’s founder:

Families should seriously pursue public banking, donation for research, or private banking instead of discarding their baby’s umbilical cord blood. We aim to be nonpartisan in our dissemination of information, but we believe that discarding your baby’s cord blood is a waste of a once-in-a-lifetime valuable resource.

Publicly banking your baby’s cord blood is a wonderful gift. Unfortunately, however, your chance of donating your baby’s cord blood is very low due to the regional and financial constraints of public cord blood banks. It is estimated that cord blood from less than 3% of all U.S. births can be collected and stored by the public banks. We support any efforts to increase the resources available for public banking.

Private banking is an alternative option if you can afford the associated costs and if the family’s history suggests a higher probability of need. Families that are predisposed to certain diseases, that are ethnically mixed, or that include a family member who may need a stem cell transplant should take special care to understand the value the cells may provide.

You can also support your local research and academic institutions that are accepting cord blood donations. Stem cell research has become a provocative debate because of the ethical disagreements around embryonic stem cells. UCB avoids the debate entirely while still providing valuable stem cells in the quest to cure disease and mitigate human suffering.

Donate for Research

Donating to research is another alternative. In some areas, you may be able to donate your newborn’s cord blood stem cells to a university or biotech firm. There are also now several private banks who offer to bank your baby’s cord blood as a donation, but they will typically sell it to a research facility. Cord Blood Options will be compiling additional data for this section in the near future.

Donate to the Community

Donating your baby’s cord blood is a wonderful gift. The cells may be the perfect match for someone in desperate need of a stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, cord blood banking is still an extremely new industry; there are only a small handful of public banks in certain regions, and those banks are primarily focused on collecting cord blood stem cells from Hispanic and African American families due to the genetic diversity associated with those families. Please visit http://www.marrow.org/ for a list of public banks with their contact information. One other note: It is also a wonderful gift to be a bone marrow donor, and becoming one is much more available to the public, unlike cord blood banking. Please call your local blood bank or the American Red Cross for additional information on how to become a bone marrow donor.

Store in a Private Bank

Parents have the option to privately store their newborn’s cord blood stem cells. There are now over a dozen private cord blood banks, and more open every year. Some have their own labs, while others contract with a lab. Cord blood stem cell banking is not a regulated industry; there are no certifications or licensing requirements to open a cord blood bank. Several banks are accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks. Please keep in mind there is a big difference between being accredited by the AABB and being a member of the AABB. To be accredited, the lab must follow strict standards and be inspected by the association.

Families that are predisposed to certain diseases, that are ethnically mixed, that are adopting a newborn child, or that have a family member who may need a stem cell transplant should take special care to understand the value the cells may provide and their storage options.

A list of private cord blood banks list with basic contact information is provided. Cord Blood Options will provide a more detailed set of guidelines to evaluate these banks in the near future.

Discard as Medical Waste

Over 95% of newborns’ cord blood stem cells fall into this category. It is unfortunate that public banking is not readably available and private banking is so expensive. Some industry leaders believe that as the industry grows, banking or donating cord blood will be as common as it is uncommon today.

cord blood private banking


What Are Stem Cells and What Is the Value of Cord Blood?

what are stem cells

Cord blood is the blood found inside the umbilical cord, the nutritional “pipeline” between the mother and the baby in utero. Following the birth of a baby, the umbilical cord usually is discarded along with the placenta. However, it is now known that blood retrieved from the umbilical cord is a rich source of stem cells.

Stem cells are unspecialized cells that can develop into specialized cells such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell. They continually make new copies of themselves and produce cells that make every other type of cell. Stem cells are usually further defined according to how many different types of cells they have the potential to produce. For instance, a fertilized egg is considered totipotent, meaning it can give rise to all the different types of cells in the body. Pluripotent stem cells can give rise to any type of cell in the body except those needed to develop a fetus, and multipotent stem cells can develop into multiple different cell types. The stem cells in umbilical cord blood are considered multipotent, though recent research is discovering ways to regress these and adult stem cells into pluripotent stem cells.

The Value

Like donated bone marrow, stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be used to treat various genetic disorders that affect the blood and immune system, leukemia and certain cancers, and some inherited disorders of body chemistry. To date, more than 45 disorders have been treated with stem cells. Cord blood has therapeutic advantages over adult stem cells. Cord blood stem cells, unlike adult stem cells, are less likely to contain DNA abnormalities caused by sunlight, toxins and errors in DNA replication during the course of a lifetime and, in transplantations, are rejected much less often even though exact matches are not required. Cord blood is a richer source of stem cells than bone marrow, with nearly 10 times as many blood-producing cells, so fewer cord blood cells are needed for a successful transplantation.


Treated Diseases

Acute Leukemias
Acute Biphenotypic Leukemia
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
Acute Undifferentiated Leukemia

Chronic Leukemias
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)
Juvenile Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (JCML)
Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML)

Myelodysplastic Syndromes
Amyloidosis
Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia (CMML)
Refractory Anemia (RA)
Refractory Anemia with Excess Blasts (RAEB)
Refractory Anemia with Excess Blasts in Transformation (RAEB-T)
Refractory Anemia with Ringed Sideroblasts (RARS)

Stem Cell Disorders
Aplastic Anemia (Severe)
Congenital Cytopenia
Dyskeratosis Congenita
Fanconi Anemia
Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH)

Myeloproliferative Disorders
Acute Myelofibrosis
Agnogenic Myeloid Metaplasia (Myelofibrosis)
Essential Thrombocythemia
Polycythemia Vera

Lymphoproliferative Disorders
Hodgkin’s Disease
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Prolymphocytic Leukemia

Phagocyte Disorders
Chediak-Higashi Syndrome
Chronic Granulomatous Disease
Neutrophil Actin Deficiency
Reticular Dysgenesis

Liposomal Storage Diseases
Adrenoleukodystrophy
Gaucher’s Disease
Hunter’s Syndrome (MPS-II)
Hurler’s Syndrome (MPS-IH)
Krabbe Disease
Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome (MPS-VI)
Metachromatic Leukodystrophy
Morquio Syndrome (MPS-IV)
Mucolipidosis II (I-cell Disease)
Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS)
Niemann-Pick Disease
Sanfilippo Syndrome (MPS-III)
Scheie Syndrome (MPS-IS)
Sly Syndrome, Beta-Glucuronidase Deficiency (MPS-VII)
Wolman Disease

Histiocytic Disorders
Familial Erythrophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis
Hemophagocytosis
Histiocytosis-X
Langerhans’ Cell Histiocytosis

Inherited Erythrocyte Abnormalities
Beta Thalassemia Major
Blackfan-Diamond Anemia
Pure Red Cell Aplasia
Sickle Cell Disease

Congenital (Inherited) Immune System Disorders
Absence of T & B Cells SCID
Absence of T Cells, Normal B Cell SCID
Ataxia-Telangiectasia
Bare Lymphocyte Syndrome
Common Variable Immunodeficiency
DiGeorge Syndrome
Kostmann Syndrome
Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency
Omenn’s Syndrome
Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID)
SCID with Adenosine Deaminase Deficiency
Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome
X-Linked Lymphoproliferative Disorder

Other Inherited Disorders
Cartilage-Hair Hypoplasia
Ceroid Lipofuscinosis
Congenital Erythropoietic Porphyria
Glanzmann Thrombasthenia
Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome
Osteopetrosis
Tay Sachs Disease

Inherited Platelet Abnormalities
Amegakaryocytosis / Congenital Thrombocytopenia

Plasma Cell Disorders
Multiple Myeloma
Plasma Cell Leukemia
Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia

Other Malignancies
Brain Tumors
Ewing Sarcoma
Neuroblastoma
Ovarian Cancer
Renal Cell Carcinoma
Small-Cell Lung Cancer
Testicular Cancer

Autoimmune Diseases
Evan Syndrome
Multiple Sclerosis (Experimental)
Rheumatoid Arthritis (Experimental)
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Experimental)

Emerging Clinical Stem Cell Applications

Alzheimer’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease

Stroke
Doctors are focusing on the ability of the stem cell to differentiate into nerve cells. The approach to treatment would be to regenerate new and healthy nerve cells (tissue) to reduce, alleviate, or eliminate the symptoms or effects of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and repair damage caused by stroke.

      Sanchez-Ramos, J., Song, S., Kamath, S., et al. Expression of neural markers in human umbilical cord blood. Experimental Neurology. 2001;171:109-115.
    Chen, J., Sanberg, P., Li, Y., et al. Intravenous administration of human umbilical cord blood reduces behavioral deficits after stroke in rats. Stroke. 2001;32:2682-2688.

Diabetes
Success using stem cells to regenerate pancreas function and insulin production. May help insulin dependent patients become free of adjunctive therapy (such as insulin injections).

    Domenick, M., Ildstad, S. Impact of bone marrow transplantation on type I diabetes. World Journal of Surgery. 2001;25:474-480.

Heart Disease
Success regenerating heart tissue and blood vessels for treatment of heart disease or traumatic injury to the heart.

    Assmus, B., Schachinger, V., Teupe, C., et al. Transplantation of progenitor cells and regeneration enhancement in acute myocardial infarction (TOPCARE-AMI). Circulation. 2002;106:3009-3017.

Liver Disease
Stem cells differentiated into liver cells in mice. Future applications may include repairing liver damage caused by cirrhosis, viral infection, trauma, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

    Wang X., Ge S., McNamara G., et al. Albumin-expressing hepatocyte-like cells develop in the livers of immune-deficient mice that received transplants of highly purified human hematopoietic stem cells. Blood. 2003;101(10):4201-4208.

Lupus
Following stem cell transplantation patients with severe lupus have been able to regenerate blood cells that are completely free of the disease.

    Brunner, M., Greinix, H., Redlich, K., et al. Autologous blood stem cell transplantation in refractory systemic lupus erythematosus with severe pulmonary impairment. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2002;46(6):1580-1584.

Multiple Sclerosis
Stem cell transplantation has stopped and even reversed disease progression for some patients with multiple sclerosis.

    Kozak, T. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. The Middle European Journal of Medicine. 2002;114(1-2; 7-13)

Muscular Dystrophy
Stem cells have been proven to fuse into skeletal muscle cells in patients with muscular dystrophy. Transplantation may help slow or stop the progression of muscle wasting.

    Gussoni, E., Bennett, R., Muskiewicz, K., et al. Long term persistence of donor nuclei in a duchenne muscular dystrophy patient receiving bone marrow transplantation, The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2002;110(6):807-814.

Spinal Cord Injury
In animal studies cord blood stem cells are beneficial in helping to reverse paralysis caused by spinal cord injury. Cord blood-derived stem cells were shown to migrate to and participate in the healing of neurological defects caused by traumatic assault.

    Saporta, S., Kim, J., Willing, A., et al. Human umbilical cord blood stem cells infusion in spinal cord injury: engraftment and beneficial influence on behavior. Journal of Hematotherapy & Stem Cell Research. 2003; 12:271-278.

 


Is Cord Blood Necessary?

Some Concerns
stem cells
The most obvious argument against is that the odds of needing cord blood for medical treatment is very, very slim.  Below is a news release on a policy published in the July,1999 issue of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
———————-
A new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states there is no strong evidence to recommend routine cord blood banking for an infant’s future use.
In recent years, umbilical cord blood has been used successfully to treat a variety of pediatric genetic, hematologic and oncologic disorders. This advance has resulted in both not-for-profit and for-profit cord blood banking programs. The AAP’s statement is intended to help guide physicians in answering parents’ questions about cord blood banking.
According to the statement, “Families may be vulnerable to emotional marketing at the time of birth of a child and may look to their physicians for advice. No accurate estimates exist of the likelihood of children to need their own stored cells. The range of available estimates is from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 200,000.” For this and other reasons, it is difficult to recommend that parents store their children’s cord blood for future use. The AAP policy states:
Given the difficulty in estimating the need for using one’s own cord blood cells for transplantation, private storage of cord blood as “biological insurance” is unwise. However, banking should be considered if there is a family member with a current or potential need to undergo a stem cell transplantation.
Conditions such as leukemia or severe hemoglobinopathy may indicate the need for directed-donor cord blood banking for sibling cord blood transplantation.
Philanthropic donation of cord blood for banking at no cost for certain transplantations is encouraged. In such instances, the parents should be informed of the recommended principles.
The policy also points out that if cord clamping is done too soon after birth, the infant may be deprived of a placental blood transfusion, resulting in lower blood volume and increased risk for anemia later in life. Finally the AAP recommends that because this issue can be emotionally stressful, consent should be obtained during a prenatal visit and before the onset of labor.

 

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 55,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults  Read the full article on the AAP website.
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If the doubts of the AAP, weren’t enough to turn you off cord banking, the cost is enormous.  At Viacord, (see ad on left) the price begins at $1550 at birth, plus $150 for a courier to deliver the blood, plus $95 dollars for storage a year.  At these prices, that will cost you $2840 by the time your baby is 21.  
To most people, the issue comes down to money.  If you had unlimited money, you would spend a few thousand to even miniscually increase the chance of your child enjoying good health.  However, since you probably don’t have unlimited money, you will have to decide how to best spend and save for your children’s future. If you invested the Viacord fee of $1550 plus $150 for the courier at your child’s birth in the stockmarket, you would have $12,210 by the time he turned 21.  That would certainly help pay for college or even his medical insurance insurance after he graduated from college.  The odds are that your child will need a college education more than a autologous bone marrow transplant.  So if you have to chose between one or the other, make the right choice by saving the money for his future.

How to Understand Cord Blood Banking and Banks

A free, unbiased source of information

Every expectant parent today faces a tough and irreversible choice:  Should you bank your newborn child’s cord blood?  If you are like most expectant parents, you are perhaps overwhelmed and confused by the choice.  On one hand you receive tons of marketing from the cord blood companies touting the important benefits of blood banking.  On the other hand, you’ve heard that there is limited medical value to storing your child’s cord blood and the costs are very high.
cord blood banking

Here is a quick summary of why you should bank your baby’s cord blood:

It might just save your baby’s or another family member’s life at some point in the future
You will only have one chance to bank your baby’s cord blood; the moment immediately after birth.
The cord blood collection process is simple, painless, and harmless to the baby and mother.
30%-70% of people who need bone marrow transplants can not find a match.  Finding a proper match is especially problematic for African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and people of mixed ethnicity.  By banking your baby’s stem cells, the odds of having a proper match for the baby or another family member improve.
Especially beneficial if a family member has a condition that can be treated with a stem cell transplant, such as sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, aplastic anemia, leukemia, metabolic storage disorders and certain genetic immunodeficiencies.
Future medical advances might allow stem cells to treat even more diseases and be used in more transplant cases than current medical practices.
I’ve tried to summarize the argument for banking cord blood as succinctly as possible.  To gather more information, you can click on the links of the cord banks on the left of the page.  Each bank has a detailed (although biased) argument in favor of blood banking.  
In addition, the following articles provide some interesting reading:


Cord Blood Banks Review

Researching

blood banks

So if you have decided to bank your child’s blood, or even if you are still on the fence – you will want to research some cord blood banks.  There are a few easy ways to do this.  Search out and contact the leading cord blood banks.

When you visit the website of a cord blood bank, be sure to research the following areas:

1.  Price – Price levels differ dramatically

2.  Service levels

3.  Ensure that the banks are accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB)

4. The Financial status of the cord bank – One often overlooked issue is that you are counting on this cord blood bank to be in business for 21 years.  Unlike the bank you deposit your paycheck, cord banks are not insured or regulated by the government.  If a cord bank loses its financial footing, the cord blood that you paid for may go to waste.

Once you have checked out several sites and narrowed the choice down to 2-3 cord blood banks call them up and research the following areas before making a final selection:

1.  Ask the cord bank some hard questions about their service levels and policies. See the Cord Blood Donor Website for a list of questions to ask a Cord Blood Bank.  For those of you who really want to grill the cord blood bank before making a selection, see this list of detailed questions from the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Banks.

2.  If you are the bargaining type, you might want to negotiate price.  I’ve heard many stories of people getting $100 off and some stories of people getting even more.

3.  Be sure to ship the specimen by “medical courier” not FedEx or other standard overnight shipping companies.  Most standard overnight companies cannot regulate temperature and therefore risk destroying the stem cells you paid so much to save.

4.  Most importantly, before you sign up make sure you read the fine print on the contract closely!

After researching and picking a winning cord bank, share your experience with us, so future readers can learn from you!