How does cord blood banking work?
If you decide to have your baby’s cord blood saved (a decision that must be made in advance of the delivery date), the OB-GYN or a hospital staff person will cut and clamp the umbilical cord immediately after you give birth, drawing blood from the cord and place it in a bag.
“When a patient has contracted with a private or public cord blood bank, that company sends a cord blood banking kit in a little box to the mother who provides it to the OB-GYN at the time of delivery,” says Dr. Naqvi. “After the cord blood is collected, we fill out some paperwork, and pick up is typically arranged by the company.” This cord blood is then safely frozen and stored in the cord blood bank for potentially several years, to be used if it is needed to treat someone who has one of the diseases that responds to stem cell transplant.
What’s the cost of cord blood banking?
With private cord blood banking, there is typically a large upfront cost that includes the kit, processing and shipping and one year of storage, which can range from $1,500 to $3,200. After the first year, there is a yearly storage fee, which can range from $90 to $185, depending on various payment plans. Note that discounts are common, so check company websites often.
Does insurance cover cord blood banking?
Cord blood banking is not typically covered by private insurance. Families with an immediate need of a stem cell transplant due to a family history leukemia or other FDA approved conditions may be eligible for some coverage.
Can I donate cord blood?
Yes—you can arrange for your baby’s cord blood to be donated to a public bank at no cost to you. This means that anyone who needs the stem cells can access them at any time. The AAP currently states that, “public cord blood banking is the preferred method of collecting, processing and using cord blood cells for use in transplantation in infants and children with fatal diseases.”
Additionally, donating to a public cord blood bank is especially important for ethnic minorities “who are not well represented in cord blood banks. Public cord blood donation increases the chance of all groups finding a match,” according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).