As you prepare for the arrival of your precious new baby, at some point your doctor will likely ask,” Do you plan to save your baby’s cord blood?” It is an important question that deserves careful consideration. The first step is to understand your options:
(1) Privately bank your babys cord blood (or)
(2) Donate your baby’s cord blood to a public bank. For many parents in today’s uncertain economy, the decision comes down to cost.
If you choose to privately bank your baby’s cord blood, you can expect to pay about $1,600 for initial processing and an additional $125 per year for cryogenic storage. The greatest value of private banking is that
(1) The family maintains all rights to direct the use of the stem cells,
(2) The cord blood is readily available when needed
(3) It ensures the best biological stem cell match for a successful transplant.
Conversely, many families are drawn to the idea of donating their baby’s cord blood, because
(1) There is no cost to donate
(2) it appears to serve” the greater good” of humanity.
The concept is commendable, though considerably shortsighted.
Approximately 50% of all publically donated cord blood samples are never processed or made available for public use. The reasons for this shocking statistic are simple.
First, public banks have very strict eligibility guidelines for donating cord blood. Your family’s health history and lifestyle (i.e., tattoos, piercing, foreign travel, etc.) are determinant factors for rejection. Infact, if you have ever been rejected as a blood donor, a public bank will likely discard your baby’s cord blood, rather than keep it for“the greater good”. The unfortunate in justice is that public banks will not advise you of their decision to discard your baby’s cord blood, and will not give you the option of privately banking the specimen as an alternative.
Second, donated cord blood specimens that are not discarded are instead used to fund the publicbank’s continuing operations. Public cord blood banks are not-‐for ‐profit organizations, and they are financially dependent on the sale of donated specimen store search and transplant facilities.
Infact, the National Marrow Donor Program published a fee schedule for a stem cell transplant program in Chicago that listed the cost of one unit of cord blood from a public bank at $51,385, plus an additional $2,730 for the program to initiate a formal search through public registries– a staggering cost that is significantly higher than the cost of private banking. This cost is passed directly to the patient requiring the transplant, which is indefensible at a time when patients are faced with so many hardships in relation to the treatment of their condition. The cost, however, may not be the greatest concern for patients needing a stem cell transplant.
For many, survival may be dependent upon the ability of the public bank to simply locate a stemcell unit that would be considered an adequate match for transplant. The average length of time needed to complete a formal search through the public registries is about four months. The sad reality is that many patients don’t have four months to wait. For thousands of patients each year, a suitable match will never be found–even with $51,385 to spend.