What is the Difference between Public and Private Cord Blood Banking?
Public cord blood banks accept donations of umbilical cord blood. These donations further research into medical treatment and make donated cord blood available for stem cell transplants. Donations to public cord blood banks do not provide a guarantee that all people will find a matching sample. Also, these donations do not provide a link between your baby and their donated sample; you have signed away all ownership rights to your child's cord blood.
Private cord blood banks provide the opportunity for families to store their child's cord blood. Private storage is the only guarantee that you will have access to your child's cord blood if you or another family member should need it for transplant. You have sole ownership of the cord blood; no one else is entitled to access or use, the cord blood without your written consent.
Regardless of whether you plan on donating or privately banking your child's cord blood, it is important to start researching options as soon as possible. Public banking options can be scarce, and depending on your location and hospital, it may not even be an option. Fewer than 200 hospitals across the United States handle public donation. Even if you do decide to donate, keep in mind that at least half the contributions are thrown away because they are too small to meet minimum cell counts.
Private cord blood banking gives families the option to store cord blood regardless of cell count, though most companies will advise against storage if your sample is unusually small. The good news is that stem cell counts can now be expanded in the laboratory. This advance in stem cell technology offers hope to families whose samples do not contain an optimal number of stem cells.