How to choose the right cord blood bank

Once you’ve chosen to store your baby’s stem cells, it might be tempting just to pick the cheapest and closest laboratory to you. But, perhaps more than with most purchases, you need to be sure you’re making an informed choice and insisting on what’s important – but where to start?

  • Are they accredited?

In the UK, the bank should be accredited by a relevant organisation such as the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and should comply with the Department of Health Code of Practice for Tissue Banks. In the US, the company should be accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks.

  • Have they done this before?

The number of samples they have already banked and the number of samples which they have already supplied for use in transplant will give you figures which you can compare between companies. The more experienced they’ve had, the more likely they are to be able to take care of your sample properly. Remember to ask if they have ever had a sample rejected for use, and ask for what reason.

  • Can they remove the red blood cells?

The more red blood cells there are in a sample the more difficult it will be to use in transplant, increasing the risk of side effects. The is not volume reduction, and it’s not just to make the sample smaller, what about the laboratory and the storage facility? You’ll be looking for a company who doesn’t contract their storage or lab work out to third parties, who might not be as rigorously insured as you might like. You might also need the sample to be within relatively easy reach of where you are, and if the land is safe. Ask too if the lab is used solely for processing cord blood, so as to minimise risk of cross-contamination, and check that the staff that work there are all fully trained. Does the company have the financial ability to store your sample long term, and can it guarantee the safety of its storage equipment?

  • Can you have a testimonial?

If they’re really proud of their service, a private cord bank will let you chat to someone who has been banking there a while or allow you to read through customer testimonials. In a new market, this is a great way to gauge a company’s reputation.

Some companies offer payment plans to help cover the costs, but the average sample will cost around £1,500 to store for 20 years.

Related links

The National Blood Service web pages on umbilical cord blood donation have more helpful advice on this issue.

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