Cord blood banking generated debates about the implications of donating against private storage of umbilical blood. Umbilical cord blood, a “miracle” in medical and scientific research, is found to contain stem cells which are highly valuable in treating blood-related diseases. Its “primitiveness” can regenerate whole immune systems necessary for curing chronic diseases like leukemia, anemia, and immune system disorders. Despite its many uses, there are limited donations made in public banks because of several reasons. Lack of equipment, incompetent information dissemination, and financial problems are common reasons. But other than these, the desire of parents to save their children’s blood for familial use is a stronger reason. Most families are opting to keep stem cells as “medical insurance” in case one of them gets sick with a blood disease. If you are thinking about your options, recent studies prove that public storage is more beneficial to the donating family and others.
First, there is little chance that immediate members of the donating family can use the donated stem cells. Umbilical cord blood from the sick child himself is unsuitable for his use. The genetic materials that made the disease possible is also encoded in the blood cells. The parents also contain strains of these genetic materials which make them unsuitable candidates for the blood’s use. Besides, stem cells harvested from umbilical blood are usually not enough to cure adults or persons weighing over a hundred pounds.
Second, if you do need umbilical blood, chances are higher that your match is in public stores rather than private storage. National Marrow Donor Program’s Dennis Confer affirms that an exact match between a donor’s umbilical blood and his sibling is pegged at only 25%, while exact matches from public stores is at 75%. He claims that the latter is higher if internationally-based cord blood banking systems are included.
Third, doctors often prefer umbilical blood procured through public banking systems. Unlike private storage, public banks have regulated and rigorous standards for umbilical cord blood preservation. They have standards on amount, sanitation, and trained, qualified staff. Private storage are just ordinary businesses – they aim for profit. They may limit the amount of harvested samples to make room for more, or hire less than qualified staff to lower manpower costs. By keeping umbilical blood in private stores, its quality is highly at risk.
Fourth, donating umbilical blood in public banks does not limit your access to it unless it was used. Public and government-regulated cord blood banking institutions give priority to donors if they need their donated blood. Also, there are very slim chances that your donated umbilical blood is used. Lawrence Petz from Stem. Cyte – a top public/private umbilical blood bank – estimates that only 5% of banked donations are used.
Lastly, donating umbilical cord blood is more economical because it’s free. Private banks charge as much as $2,000 for collection and registration, and another $100 yearly for storage. That’s a lot of money for something you might not even use. But by donating umbilical blood to cord blood banking institutions, you are giving a chance at life to other people without expense on your part. You never know but the life your donated umbilical blood saves might be the your savior in the unforeseen future.