There are a lot of decisions to consider when having a child – will the birth be natural? Is an at-home birth better than a hospital? Will you save your newborn’s cord blood? After all, you only have one opportunity to do so, but deciding which cord blood bank to entrust isn’t easy. While there is a lot of information available for expecting parents, sifting through the many options to find the best cord blood banks can be confusing and tiring. We’re here to provide expert advice to help you focus on your number one priority – ensuring your child’s cord blood is safely processed and effectively stored for when (and if) it’s needed.
How to Choose a Cord Blood Bank
- Technology is important. The best cord blood banks have an advantage over their competitors by leveraging the most cutting edge technology. Ask your blood bank candidate if they use AXP®, aka AutoXpress®. This technology is a closed system that extracts a high yield of cells from the cord blood, and since it is automated, there is much less room for error or contamination. Another technology to ask about is BioArchive®, a robotic controlled storage system that meets, and exceeds, exacting FDA guidelines and requirements.
- Cord blood stem cell processing affect can impact the outcome. When researching the best cord blood banks, it is important to pay attention to the processing method that is used. Not every cord blood bank uses the same method, and each one can yield different results. Don’t be fooled by banks trying to entice you with claims based on their record stem cell yield. Spend some time reading medical journals and conducting your own research to determine which process is best for you and your newborn’s cord blood.
- The best cord blood banks have the most experience and stability. Look for a company that has a proven high record of engraftment, which is further backed by a financial guarantee. The best cord blood banks will have their own laboratory, which means they don’t have to switch laboratory partners every couple of years. Switching over can impact the quality and precision of their work, which can be harmful considering the fragile nature of cord blood. Private labs also ensure quality control and testing standards. Also, the best cord blood banks will have extra accreditation to prove their qualifications for quality and accuracy.
- Because of the fragility of cord blood, it needs to be handled with care. The best cord blood banks understand this and will do everything they can to ensure you of their safe and stable practices. If you decide to ship your cord blood to a bank, the kit you are provided with should be certified to maintain stable temperatures even in the most extreme temperatures. Why? Because stem cells degrade over time—and more rapidly when they are exposed to cold or hot temperatures. Some banks also provide courier services to ensure your cord blood arrives at your bank of choice in a safe and timely manner.
- Spend some time looking into the history of the cord bank you’re interested in. The best cord blood banks will have a longer, more established history. This is the big difference between public and private banks. The former are affiliated with non-profit organizations or hospitals, so they will have more experience managing cord blood transplants and donations, whereas private cord banks are affiliated with businesses and corporations. While this isn’t necessarily harmful or detrimental to the quality of service, it does mean there is a risk that the bank could go under – much like a business. Choosing a public cord bank also means there are less expenditures. A very important thing to know about public cord banks is this: if you want to get your cells back from a public bank, this could cost you between $30,000 – $50,000 – if your cells are still available.
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Reviewed by Dr. Paul V. Holland.