Public and Private Cord Blood Banking

Will my baby’s cord blood be stored at BWH?

No. The BWH Cord Blood Donation Program will collect your baby’s umbilical cord blood. The BWH Cord Blood Donation Program works with a public cord blood bank that is affiliated with the NMDP. Click here to learn more about the NMDP at Dana-Farber.

What is the difference between a public bank and a private bank?

When you donate cord blood to a public bank, once processed it is immediately part of the Registry and available to any patient in need of a transplant. There is no cost to you to donate your baby’s cord blood to a public bank.

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. The BWH Cord Blood Donation Program does not facilitate private cord blood banking.

What do the experts think about public versus private cord blood banking?

While the choice to donate your baby’s cord blood is ultimately a personal decision, public donation is increasingly  advocated by experts:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued recommendations in 2007 encouraging parents to donate to public cord blood banks and discouraging them from using private cord blood banks (unless they have an older child that could benefit from a cord blood transplantation);
  • The American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) recommendations encourage expectant parents to donate their newborn’s umbilical cord blood to public banking.
  • Parents should not bank their newborn's umbilical cord blood in a private bank unless another member of the family is at risk for a blood disease that will require a stem cell transplant, according to physicians surveyed for a study led by Dana-Farber.
If it turns out my child does need the cord blood, can I retrieve his/her cord blood from the bank I donated it to?

Cord blood banked in a public program may not be available for future private use. Most conditions that might be helped by cord blood stem cells already exist in the infant’s cord blood (i.e., premalignant changes in stem cells).

The Children’s Hospital of Boston has never used an autologous (banked for self) cord blood unit in transplantation.


For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH