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Cordlife Feature Part 3 - Public or Private Cord Blood Banking? What are the differences?



Have you and your spouse decided to bank your child’s cord blood? There are several options: discard it, donate it or bank it for future use.

In our previous articles on the value of your child’s cord blood and how to choose the right cord blood bank, we shared about the potential of cord blood banking. Your child’s cord blood and cord lining, found in the umbilical cord, contains stem cells that can treat many diseases should your child, his or her sibling or a suitable recipient require such a treatment. Thus, cord blood banking could be a life-saving decision you can make for your child’s future.

Cord blood and cord lining are rich sources of stem cells. Both cord blood and cord lining contain stem-cells for blood-forming, infrastructure-building and have the potential to treat diseases through providing new cells to replace damaged, diseased or defective cells.

Diseases that stem cells can potentially treat include most blood cancers such as leukaemia, blood disorders and solid tumours. The list will continue to expand as more clinical trials are held to ascertain that other health conditions such as autism, heart disease, liver failure, damaged tissue can also be treated with stem cells. In Singapore, about 100 new cases of childhood cancers are detected in children younger than 15 years old every year.

Public and private cord blood banking are two different avenues of banking cord blood. It is important to note that public and family cord blood banks store umbilical cord blood samples for different reasons. The former receives donations of cord blood samples with donors relinquishing all rights to the samples. On the other hand, the latter offers cord blood storage for both autologous (self-use) and for related transplants (family members with a HLA match- most likely siblings)

The charges to bank cord blood also vary. While public cord blood banking is free of charge, 60% to 80% of donations to a public cord blood bank are normally discarded due to numerous reasons. Each private cord blood bank has their different criteria and processes in place to accept or reject samples. The family is given the informed choice to continue with storing. Private cord blood banks charge for cord blood sample processing and storage. Also, samples at a private cord blood bank are for the family’s use only and are not listed on international donor registries.

Once the family donates the cord blood they relinquish rights to the sample. The sample is released if a match is found and sample is purchased off one of the International Registries. On the contrary, for private cord blood banks, the sample is released only on request of family and usually at no cost to parents.

Selecting the right private cord blood banking is also critical. In article 2 in our series, we shared about the criteria of a reliable cord blood bank. Its experience, accreditations, facilities and quality assurance are factors to consider.

Cord blood banking is an issue that requires serious thought as it involves unknown factors of the future. Each family has to decide what they would like to do with their child’s cord blood. Hence, parents should be aware of the different options and weigh them accordingly.

For more on cord blood banking, visit cordlife.com/sg or call 6238 0808.