Types of Public Cord Blood Banks
There are two types of public banks that accept donated cord blood: non-profit and for-profit banks. These differ widely from each other; when choosing a bank to donate to, be sure to inform yourself on what type of bank they are.
Also, be aware that each public bank will sell cord blood that is unsuitable for transplant purposes. Non-profit banks will sell to cover costs. For-profit banks sell cord blood for as much as they can get on the market. Remember that donating to a public bank means there is never a cost to you; the public banks cover the processing and storage fees.
Non-Profit Public Banks
The non-profit public banks reserve their donated cord blood solely for the use of patients in need. They enter your donation on a national registry, so that the cord blood can be used to perfectly match a recipient. This means that you forfeit ownership, but can use the blood should it still be available at the time of need.
For-Profit Public Banks
For-profit public banks operate by collecting donated samples of cord blood and selling some of those samples to medical laboratories for scientific testing. While it is legal in the States to sell donated cord blood (it isn’t legal in Europe), there are certain predicaments that arise with for-profit public banks. First, parents should not be under the impression that their baby’s cord blood is going to save someone’s life, or that they’ll one day be able to use it to treat someone within their family. Usually, the cord blood is sold within a few weeks for scientific research. Lastly, it is an ethical question that each family has to make a decision on; do you donate your baby’s cord blood to a public bank that sells the cord blood for profit?
Read the Fine Print
Really do take the time to read the fine print and don’t be afraid to ask questions to prospective banks. Ask the company for statistics on how long the cord blood usually stays in the bank before being sent away for either research or recipients. Once you’re satisfied with the information, then make your banking decision.