You know how to understand cord blood storage and now you need to know how to find a cord blood bank.
The first decision to make is whether you want to use a public or private cord blood bank. This is the one aspect of cord blood storage that carries the most controversy. Do you store the cord blood in a private facility for the use by your own family, or do you donate it to a public facility for use by anyone who needs it?
The advantages of public donation include:
- Public donation carries no cost to you.
- Cord blood in a public bank is far more likely to be used by someone who needs it, since it is accessible to the population as a whole rather than just your own family.
- Private cord blood storage is not biological insurance for your baby, as these companies would claim. In fact, it is very rare that children can use their own cord blood as the blood condition they need the transplant for is already in their own blood. According to F. Leonard Johnson, MD of Oregon Health Sciences University, only 1 patient in 9 who develops these kinds of conditions would benefit from an autologous transplant (a transplant of blood or marrow from their own bodies).
- If for some reason the cord blood doesn't meet the criteria for transplant, many public banks will donate it for medical research rather than disposing of it.
That does not mean that private donation is a bad idea. Families who already have a child with an illness that may require a cord blood donation, or families with a history of these diseases may want to consider a private cord blood storage facility. Also, some public blood banks do not use donated cord blood for transplant, but rather sell it for research. Some of these research organzations are for-profit corporations rather than hospitals and universities.
In the end, the disposition of your baby's cord blood is like the disposition of your money. It's your choice, no one else's, whether you wish to donate it to a charitable organization or keep it for personal use.
In order to find a cord blood bank, there are online resources you can consult. The National Marrow Donor Program, which also deals with cord blood donation, has a list of public cord blood banks. A Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Banks lists private cord blood banks and has information to help in choosing a public bank.