Cord-Blood Banking and Donation

One of the things you'll be asked about when you become pregnant is "Will you be banking or donating your baby's cord-blood?"

When I first read into cord-blood banking, the answer to this seemed obvious: "YES!" Potentially saving your child or children from a future illness? Sign me up!

But then I read about it on Lucie's List (a totally great website recommended to me by a fabulous mom friend, Liz!), and did a bit more research into the process...not to mention the cost.

Here is most of the material from their website/email regarding cord-blood banking:

Cord-Blood Banking
There are a lot of key points that the private banking companies DON'T tell you about. Let's call them "marketing omissions", shall we?
1. Bad Blood
The blood from a sick child would probably not be used to treat that child.Children who develop a disorder often are unable to use their own cord blood because the blood also contains the same genetic defect. In fact, nearly all of the transplants that have occurred to date using privately banked cord blood have gone to relatives with pre-existing conditions, not to the donors themselves.
Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, director of the pediatric blood and marrow transplant program at Duke University Medical Center, agrees: "in children with cancer, I would definitely not use a child's own cord blood because it was probably contaminated with the disease at birth."

2. "There ain't enuff"
When they draw the cord blood from a newborn, it's really not a lot of blood. The idea that "we don't have many applications for cord blood now, but in 20+ years, we might be able to fix your child's heart, cure his Alzheimer's, etc" is busted because there's probably not enough blood for an adult transfusion. "Approximately 75 % of the units donated to public banks are discarded or used in research because they don't contain enough stem cells for transplants", says Mary Halet, manager of cord-blood operations for the Center for Cord Blood at the National Marrow Donor Program. Dr. Kurtzberg agrees, "few cord-blood transplants have been given to adults because most units haven't contained enough stem cells to treat anyone weighing more than 90 pounds". It may not even be enough for a child. The truth is that the majority of all cord blood stored in private banks may be unusable for this reason.
3. Go Public or Go Home
For a full sibling, there is only a 25% chance of a perfect match. For a parent or other relative, it's even less likely. This is why public banking is important. In fact, from 2000 to 2004, more than 2,200 unrelated transplants were done nationwide from public donations. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) encourages families to donate their newborn's cord blood, which is normally discarded at birth, to cord blood banks (if accessible in their area) for other individuals in need. Find donation locations here (choose your state from the drop-down menu).
This was very interesting, and provided information on a side of cord-blood banking that I hadn't heard of before.
The argument for banking:
"The potential for use is very small right now but could be very great in the future," said Dr. Michael Trigg, who chairs Cryo-Cell's medical and scientific advisory board. Also, you may be a better candidate if one of these two is true:
1. A known illness: When an immediate family member has a disease that requires a stem cell transplant, it would seem logical to privately bank your baby's cord blood as an extra weapon in your arsenal (will it "work"? who knows). You should definitely discuss this with the ill person's oncologist or hematologist.
2. You are a rare species: It's a known fact that ethnically diverse babies may have a harder time finding a public match than say, a bunch of whiteys. If you are an Irish/Inuit married to a Polynesian/Brazilian (for example), I'd suspect your babe's blood would be a better candidate for private banking than the average bear.
Then there's this statement from the Academy of Pediatrics:
"The AAP discourages storing cord blood at private banks for later personal or family use as a general "insurance policy"." Read the full statement here

So what's a girl to do? What are your thoughts on Cord-Blood Banking or Donation? I know this can be a highly personal decision, and this is definitely a case where there is no right or wrong. I think that if nothing else, I see no reason why we shouldn't do Cord-Blood's free and takes about 3-5 minutes to collect after the baby is born. However, I'd love to hear what others out there are doing or planning on doing!


  1. I agree with you...if for no other reason it could be used for donation or research. Thanks for the informative post on cord-blood banking. I never knew so much and I'm kind of glad I wasn't faced with such a decision.

    1. many new and interesting decisions these days! I think donation is the way to go...but I still have at least 5 questions written down for my OB about cord-blood next time I visit with her...the more I think about this whole thing, the more questions I keep coming up with about it.

  2. We chose to donate - I couldn't justify the high cost to store it for ourselves. I figured this way we could potentially help a child in need as well.

    1. That's so great, and I think we will def. do the same thing. Did you have to fill out paperwork or set all that up before your labor, or do you just handle that at the hospital?

      I also wonder what the process is for getting donating cord-blood should my child become ill down the line and need it - is there an extensive process for getting donated cord-blood? Do they base it on the severity of the illness? sooo many questions, I'm still investigating how this all works!

  3. We didn't bank the blood mainly due to the expense of it but also for all the reasons listed above about how unlikely it would be that we could even use it if God forbid we needed it. I did want to donate but they never asked about it at the hospital and I was so nuts with everything going on I totally forgot to even mention it to them. I think donating is a good option.

    1. Yea, I think we will def. donate. I'll look into how I can set that up before I get to the hospital so that they know it's something we want. Thanks!

  4. This was interesting to read because I haven't really looked into it. Once I saw the cost I decided I didn't want to pursue it BUT I liked reading the different reasons about it unlikely being used. Very interesting!

    1. Yea this was a very eye opening article about the pros and cons of banking and what people's stance on banking vs. donating seems to be. It seems that donating is an easy (and free) process though so that should be a good option to consider!

  5. I have no experience with this but from everything that I have read, we will probably donate when we get to that point of having kids. There are so many people out there that have been saved by cord blood donation from someone they don't even know, so I definitely want to donate because you never know if you could be saving someone's life.

    1. Yes, it sounds like a very good idea and I agree!

  6. Never thought about it, but donating it to help a sick kid seems like the best bet. Then if I end up with a sick kid, maybe there will be some donation from another family we could use on the off chance of needing it. Circle of life, kind of :)


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