One topic we feel strongly about is making sure that patients are fully informed about cord blood preservation at the time of birth. Cord blood is rich in stem cells and may be useful to families in the treatment of certain medical diseases that might befall them during their lifetime. It is important that all obstetrical patients are fully informed about the option and its associated expenses so that they can make decisions that are appropriate for their individual families.
Currently, there are two options available for cord blood collection: public and private.
Public banking involves the donation of the cord blood, free of charge. The cord blood would then be available for anyone to use. The National Cord Blood Program oversees the cord blood stored and provides a searchable database for physicians who care for patients with diseases amenable to cord blood therapy. More information on this program can be found at http://www.nationalcordbloodprogram.org. To participate, patients only need to give signed consent when they are admitted to the hospital for delivery. At Mount Sinai Hospital, this option is available (except on weekends). There is no guarantee that your blood will be stored in the national bank if collected, as collection quantity affects ultimate storage.
With private banking, the cord blood is stored for possible future use by the child, a sibling, or other family member. This involves an initial processing fee followed by annual maintenance fees. Private companies require a contract signed by the mother in advance of the infant’s delivery. The likelihood of the cord blood actually being used within the family given the current technologic treatments is remote (ACOG Technical Bulletin 2009), unless there is an affected family member at the time of collection.
There are several companies that provide cord blood banking. Two of the largest companies are Viacord (www.viacord.com) and CBR (www.cordblood.com). The physicians at Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates do not endorse any particular firm over another. Some companies reimburse us directly for each patient who signs up for private cord blood collection. This reimbursed amount is currently placed in a separate account and is used to support our research endeavors.
Whether a patient chooses to bank cord blood, whether to donate to the public bank or store with a private company, and which company to use, is completely up to the patient. However, we believe every expectant family should make an informed decision about this option. Patients should also feel free to discuss this option with one of the physicians at the time of their prenatal visits.
Furthermore, patients need to be aware that private cord blood banking is not covered by
insurance. If patients choose to bank their baby’s blood with a private company they will be responsible for two separate fees; one charged by the physicians for cord blood collection at the time of delivery, and fees charged by the cord blood banks for storage.
- The fee charged by MFMA to cover physician expenses associated with cord blood collection at the time of delivery is $250 per fetus. There is no collection fee for public donation.
- The fees charges by private cord blood banks for storage vary widely among the various companies. MFMA has no role in setting or administering fees for cord blood storage.