Experts Tout Value of Cord Blood Banks
Researchers Say Donating Baby's Umbilical Cord Blood Can Be a Lifesaver
WebMD News Archive
Public vs. Private Cord Blood Banks continued...
Parents can also donate their baby's umbilical cord blood to a public bank
for free where it will be used for research and transplants to treat a variety
"Private cord blood banks recruit for more mothers to donate, but the
the likelihood of their cord blood having any benefit for their own children is
essentially very low," says Pablo Rubinstein, MD, the chief scientist for
cord blood, stem cells, and tissue at the New York Blood center in New York
City. He says cord blood from public banks has been used for more than 15,000
transplants. In contrast, cord blood stored in private banks has only been used
for about 60 or 70 transplants.
The limitations of private cord blood banking are twofold, he says. They
include the low likelihood of usage and the viability of the cells over the
If a child develops leukemia, for example, there are likely cells in his or
her cord blood that would retrigger the disease process.
What's more, "companies that do private banking promise that the cells
will be available for some time, but [they will not be viable] when the child
is 50 or 60 and has some type of disease that cord blood may help like
Parkinson's tremors or dementia," he says.
However, "if anything happens to their child or relatives with disease
that require bone marrow transplants -- such as leukemia and lymphoma -- they
would have access to their cord blood and that of many others in the public
bank," adds Malcolm A.S. Moore, DPhil, the Enid A. Haupt Professor of Cell
Biology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
That's not to say that there aren't downsides to public cord blood
For one, there is no guarantee that people who donate cord blood to a public
bank will have access to their blood if and when they need it. What's more,
public banking is currently only available in a limited number of U.S.
hospitals and often only on certain days of the week.