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How to choose a cord blood bank - 7 things to know
Families who are expecting a baby have many concerns when it comes to preparing for their newborn. One daunting decision is how to choose the right cord blood bank? Here are 7 criteria to make it easier for soon-to-be parents to identify quality banks:
The number of cord blood units that a bank has released for transplant speaks volumes about their success in being able to deliver viable stem cells when it matters. While most family banks have only released a few hundred units for transplant or fewer, some banks have released over 1,000 cord blood transplants.
The most established cord blood banks in the United States have over 20 years of experience storing cord blood. Also, the most established cord blood banks own their laboratory. Banks that have always used the same laboratory are more stable than companies which switch to another laboratory partner every couple of years.
Another sign of a successful cord blood bank is the number of cord blood units that they have stored for clients. Banks that have been around the longest tend to be the largest. In the United States, some banks have inventories near or over 100,000 cord blood units.
One of the biggest concerns parents have is whether their child’s stem cells will be viable for transplant if they are ever needed. Banks may offer insurance programs that provide parents with assistance in the event that they need to use their cord blood. Some banks give a financial guarantee as high as $100,000 on the ability of their cord blood to engraft.
Live stem cells can degrade over time, especially when they are exposed to temperature extremes like the cold of an airplane cargo hold or the heat of a loading dock in summer. Soon-to-be parents should consider the materials and insulation a cord blood bank uses for their collection and transportation kit. It is best to choose a bank that provides a kit that was validated to maintain a stable temperature inside the kit regardless of outside extremes.
Checking accreditation status reveals to what quality standards the bank is being held. Two accreditation standards designed specifically for cord blood banks are AABB and FACT. In the United States, all cord blood banks are required to register with the FDA, but only 7 banks are FDA licensed, which requires the bank to adhere to the much stricter Biological License Application (BLA) standards.
The cost of cord blood banking is a concern for new parents, especially as it comes at a time when they are facing other new expenses. It is hard to put a price on the peace of mind of knowing that your child is protected in case of need, given that a matching unit is not guaranteed in the public banks and is especially uncertain for people of color and mixed heritage. Fortunately, payment plans can bring down the cost of family banking to affordable monthly rates that are lower than the average family’s cell phone bill.