Choosing a Private Cord Blood Bank for Your Newborn
Now that you’re pregnant, you’re focused on the health and safety of your little one. For you, that goes beyond the immediate concern of making sure that everything you put inside your body benefits your baby. You’re also concerned about the future.
Banking your baby’s cord blood is a bit of an insurance policy against some pretty major health conditions further down the line. And for extra peace of mind, you’re opting for the private bank route.
But with the hefty financial investment that entails, how can you make sure you’re selecting the very best private bank? After all, you wouldn’t want to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars only to find out that your private bank hasn’t met the quality standards needed to keep your baby’s precious cord blood viable. And you certainly don’t want to discover, at the worst possible moment when you actually need the blood, that the company has gone under.
When it comes to finding a private bank, the more you know the better. Read on for some important details to help you choose a private cord blood bank.
Starting the Search
Once you’re pregnant, you’re inundated with so much information from the get-go. You may have come across ads for cord blood banks in magazines at your ob-gyn’s office, on websites, or in flyers sent to your home (how did they know you’re pregnant anyway??). But how can you make sure the company is reliable, quality-focused, and trustworthy?
First of all, start your search early! You’re going to want to enroll in your bank of choice within your 2nd trimester – not just for peace of mind, but also to avoid late enrollment fees! So the sooner you’re on the road to information-gathering, the better.
Consulting expert resources
There are a number of great tools out there to help you in your search. Find a Family Bank has detailed information (including contacts and prices) for roughly 200 private cord blood banks around the world.
Also visit Parent's Guide to Cord Blood for information on every cord blood bank (both private and public) in the United States.
Ask for recommendations from your doctor, midwife, friends, and family, but take them with a grain of salt. Many private banks offer discounts and incentives to existing customers for referrals. What may have been the right choice for your friends and family might not be for you! Also, many doctors work exclusively with certain banks, and sometimes get a kickback. If you’re asking for recommendations, find out why your trusted source is offering up a particular company and don’t forget to do your own homework on top of it.
Cord blood banks are medical providers and as such, they need to comply with strict regulations and requirements. The FDA needs to inspect and regulate all providers within the U.S. Additionally, your state requirements may demand additional licenses or accreditations.
Make sure the banks you are researching have accreditations from the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) and/or from the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT).
If you’re not seeing any of the above accreditations, there should be some serious red flags going up!
Narrowing It Down
Your search doesn’t end simply by checking of the accreditations box. There are a few questions you’re going to want to ask to make sure there will be some usable cord blood available to your child, in case of a medical condition. You can start with these questions on product safety, quality, and hidden fees.
Shipping and processing
Sad to say but those cord blood cells start dying off from the moment they’re collected. You want to make sure that the blood reaches the lab in the shortest amount of time and in the best possible condition. Stress is your cord blood’s enemy with temperatures being the prime offender. Make sure your cord blood will be shipped under optimal temperatures – either in a heavily insulated box via priority shipment or by a medical courier. You also need to confirm that the blood will be processed at the bank in less than 48 hours after birth.
Storage and viability
Assuming all is well with shipment and processing, verify that the private bank has a good track record of storing blood properly. The best way to find out if their storage facilities and procedures are up to snuff is by asking whether (and how much) of their cord blood has actually been used for transplants. If they have a high percentage of blood successfully used, then you know the blood has been properly stored and is still viable years later. But it’s a bad, bad sign if they cannot provide significant numbers!
It’s pretty important to try to find out if you’re cord blood bank will be around in the future – or if it at least has some backup plan in case of bankruptcy. Where possible, find out about insurance policies, partnerships, and affiliations. Are there any relationships documented that will take care of the banked blood in case something does happen?
Congrats on your selection, time to enroll!
Once you’ve selected your bank, enroll within your 2nd trimester if possible. Don’t worry if you don’t make your final decision by then, you haven’t missed the deadline. You actually have until the 33rd week or so to enroll, but putting it off just means late charges and added expenses.
Once you’re signed up, you’ll receive a collection kit in the mail that contains a medical form and sealed collection supplies. Fill out the form and keep it in the kit with the sealed supplies. Make sure you have the kit packed away in your maternity bag so that you don’t forget it!
Inform your doctor in advance about which private bank you’ve selected so that she has ample time to find out about their procedures. Find out if your doctor will take on the task of shipping the kit off, or if you or your partner will need to arrange for a courier. Once the bank receives your blood, you will be contacted with information on how much was collected and processed, and you will be billed annually for storage.
Are you planning to store your cord blood in a private bank? How did you settle on your favorite?Tags : pregnancy baby cord blood