Understanding your options
Today, expectant parents may choose from the following options:
- Donate to a public cord blood bank. Donating your baby's cord blood to a public cord blood bank is free. When you donate for public use, the cord blood is available to any patient who needs a transplant. It is not reserved for your family. Today, however, only certain hospitals are able to collect umbilical cord blood for storage in public cord blood banks.
Learn if you can donate cord blood.
- Store in a family (private) cord blood bank. People who use a family cord blood bank to store their baby's cord blood for exclusive use by their family are charged a fee for collection as well as annual storage fees.
- Save for a sibling who has a medical need. When a biological sibling has a disease that may be treated with a bone marrow or cord blood transplant, parents can choose to save their baby's cord blood for directed donation. Collecting and storing cord blood for sibling-directed donation is offered at little or no cost to eligible families. To learn more, contact a participating public cord blood bank or a family cord blood bank -- see parentsguidecordblood.com.
- Do nothing. You can choose to do nothing with the umbilical cord blood, and it will be discarded after birth.
If you are expecting a baby, talk to your health care provider about the options that may be available to you. Your decision could help change someone’s life.
Making a decision about public donation or private storage
It is important to understand that even when you plan to donate cord blood to a public bank or store it in a family bank, the cord blood unit will need to meet the standards to be usable in a transplant. To be used for a transplant, cord blood must be free of disease and infection and be large enough (have enough blood-forming cells).
When you donate your baby's umbilical cord blood for public use:
- It is available to any patient in need of a transplant; it is not reserved for your family members.
- There is no cost to you because public cord blood banks cover the cost of processing, testing and storing donated cord blood.
- It is collected under strict quality standards to ensure suitability for transplant. If standards aren't met for transplant, then the cord blood unit may be used for research to improve the transplant process for future patients, or the unit will be discarded.
Learn if you can donate cord blood
If you store the cord blood in a family (private) cord blood bank, it is reserved for your own family members. Family cord blood banks are available throughout the country for anyone. You are charged a fee for the collection and an annual fee to store the umbilical cord blood. For more information about family cord blood banks, see cord blood FAQs.
Medical position statements
For more information on why you may or may not want to choose family storage or public donation, see the following resources:
American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has developed the following resource:
For more details, see the official AAP policy statement, Cord Blood Banking for Potential Future Transplantation: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/119/1/165
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has published a Committee Opinion on Umbilical Cord Blood Banking and FAQs about cord blood donation.
Read the opinion Read the FAQs
American Medical Association
The American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted ethical guidelines for physicians about umbilical cord blood. See the AMA's official policy at:
American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation
The American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) has published a position statement and committee report on cord blood collection and preservation:
http://asbmt.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=6 and issued a guide for parents. View as PDF.
For information about the need for more cord blood donations and options for umbilical cord blood, see the official U.S. Government Web site managed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at http://bloodcell.transplant.hrsa.gov/CORD/index.html.
For more information on public donation and family storage, including sibling directed donation programs and questions to ask family banks, see the Parent's Guide to Cord Blood at parentsguidecordblood.org.