In the United States, as in many other parts of the world, cord blood banks are on the rise. These are facilities that store blood from the umbilical cord so that they can be used at a future date to treat blood-related and immune system related diseases. The United States has both private and public cord blood banks. Public cord blood banks are like public blood banks, accepting donations that are utilized on anyone who needs them. The medical community prefers them and accepts them because private cord blood banks store blood only to be used by a donor or his or her family and charge around $2000 for collecting the cord blood and $200 every year for storing it.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is unwise to store cord blood privately as a form of biological insurance in the absence of a family member with the potential to have use for it. It also states that the odds of someone using their own cord blood are quite low – 1 in 200,000, in fact. The Institute of Medicine claims that there are only 14 cases of such stem cell transplantations performed so far.
The American Medical Association recommends private cord blood banking only in those cases where a family member is genetically predisposed to a condition that demands stem cell transplantation. Private cord blood banking is expensive and is not recommended for families facing low risk. Most conditions that can be treated cannot utilize one’s own umbilical cord blood and almost all blood transfusions that happen are through public cord blood banks. To this end, the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation encourages public cord blood banking as opposed to private banking as does the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. According to the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies and the World Marrow Donor Association, using one’s own cord blood for other purposes besides blood related and immune-related diseases that are genetic, as well as cancers and blood disorders, is as of now a hypothetical scenario. They do not encourage private cord blood banking for this reason, seeing that as of today, they serve no real purpose.