Womens Health

Public Cord Blood Banking: Types of Donations

Donating stem cells to a private cord blood bank allows parents to store their baby’s umbilical cord blood for their child’s future, in case any health complications arise which would require the child to undergo a stem cells transplant. However, private banking can be costly.

Public cord blood banking represents a more common approach to cord blood storage, allowing parents to donate cord blood stem cells for public use. There are three different types of cord blood donation options when it comes to public cord blood banks that may be given to parents depending on the cord blood services available at each bank. These cord blood banks take into consideration high risk groups and families.

Types of Public Cord Blood Banks

In the broadest sense, there are two types of cord blood banks available for stem cells storage: the public cord blood bank and the private cord blood bank. All public cord blood banks maintain ownership over cord blood donations and can be further divided into the following categories:

  • Non-Profit Public Bank: these banks work for the benefit of the public and can be used for stem cells transplants, cord blood research, and high risk family use

  • For-Profit Public Bank: these banks offer to store cord blood for free but profit by selling cord blood units for stem cells research, a procedure that is legal in the United States

  • Research Public Banks (RPB): these cord blood banks are relatively new in terms of stem cells storage and offer cord blood banking for the sole purpose of stem cell research. These cord blood units are either used by the banks themselves or otherwise sold to other researchers

  • Transplant Public Banks: cord blood transplant banks can either be non-profit or for-profit, but their aim is to store stem cells to be used for patients who require a transplant. The criteria for donating cord blood to these banks is strict, and parents should ensure that their donations can be useful to this type of cord blood banking so as not to be wasted.

Types of Cord Blood Donations

There are three main types of cord blood donations that a cord blood bank may offer parents:

Altruistic or Non-directed Umbilical Cord Blood Donations
Altruistic donations, also known as non-directed donations, allow donors to store cord blood units in public banks that will be registered for patients in need.

Because these cord blood units are stored in registries, they are used for allogeneic stem cells transplants for unrelated donors and provide a large variety of stem cells, increasing the likelihood of finding a match for patients. These types of donations are usually offered by the hospitals themselves.

Directed Donations for At-Risk Families
Directed cord blood donations can be used within families who are at risk. This includes families who are known to be at risk for genetic diseases and have a rare HLA group. These cord blood donations may also be used in the case that a sibling is known to have developed a treatable disease. Directed donations and storage may be offered for the use of a sibling match or for a predisposed newborn himself. The clinician treating the family member usually initiates this type of cord blood collection and he will also make subsequent arrangements with a cord blood bank and hospital.

Directed Donations for Low-Risk Families
This type of cord blood donation is directed within families who have no record of genetic disorders but would like to store their child’s umbilical cord blood just in case. Some statistics have indicated that there is a 1 in 300 to 400 chance that any child will acquire a disease that is curable by stem cells in the future. There is a level of skepticism in terms of the usefulness of this type of donation. However, as progress is made in the field of stem cells therapy, the types of treatable diseases by stem cells may expand, and this type of cord blood donation may become more useful. At this point, however, further stem cells research is required.

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