What is the difference between a public bank and a private banks?
When you donate cord blood to a public bank, it is available on the Be The Match® Registry and available to any patient in need of a transplant. There is no cost to donate your baby’s cord blood to our public bank. Public banks follow strict quality assurance and FDA regulations, and will only bank cord blood if it is sterile and contains enough stem cells to use in treatment.
When you store your baby’s cord blood in a private cord blood bank, you pay collection and ongoing storage fees and it is reserved for your use only. As the cord blood is being saved for personal use, private banks are not required to follow the same quality and sterility guidelines as a public bank.
Private companies will bank and store any amount of cord blood, even if it does not contain enough stem cells to use in transplant.
What do the experts think about public versus private cord blood banking?
While ultimately a personal decision, experts recommend public banking unless there is a known family need:
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued recommendations in 2017 encouraging parents to donate to public cord blood banks unless they know that a family member/older child could benefit from cord blood transplantation. The Brigham and Women's Cord Blood Donation Program will also facilitate a direct donation to a family member.
The American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) recommendations encourage expectant parents to donate their newborn’s umbilical cord blood to public banking.
If it turns out my family does need the cord blood, can I retrieve it from the bank?
Yes! Though it is possible to retrieve, cord blood donated to a public bank may not be available for use if it has already been matched to a patient in need, or if there was not enough cord blood collected to use in treatment.
The Brigham and Women's Hospital Cord Blood Donation Program facilitates direct donation, so if you have a family member who is in need of a cord blood transplant, you may contact our Donation Coordinators to learn more.