Public Cord Blood Banking: The Hidden Pitfalls For Families


Trying to decide whether to send your baby’s cord blood to a public or private cord blood bank? Since private cord blood banking requires a financial investment, and public banking is free, you may be tempted to donate your child’s cord blood to a public bank. Parents should know their options regarding cord blood. If you’re planning to collect your child’s cord blood primarily to help others who need the blood right now, public banking could be the wisest option. However, if your goals include safeguarding your family’s future health, private banking is the better option. Read on to find out the risks associated with public cord blood banking and to learn why private banking is a smarter health investment for your child and your family.


1. There is a large chance that a public bank will discard your donation.1

Public cord blood banks pay for the collection, testing, and storing of umbilical cord blood. In addition, these banks will only keep cord blood samples that meet strict transplant standards. As a result, between 60-80% of all donations are discarded to save money.

When a donation arrives at a public bank, it’s passed through a cell counting machine before it’s even processed. Unless the donated blood contains at least 900 million nucleated cells, it’s discarded.

2. Chances are, you won’t be able to use your child’s publicly banked cord blood.

Even if a public bank processes your donation, it’s unlikely your child or your family will have access to it later. When you donate to a public bank, you authorize the bank to decide what to do with your child’s cord blood, and you give up your right to retrieve it later. Your child’s donation may be used by others or discarded by the time your child or your family needs it.

3. 40% of patients cannot find a cord blood match through public banks.2

Locating cord blood for treatment use through public banks can be time-consuming and ultimately unsuccessful. For most cord blood transplants to work, the recipient must be an exact or close HLA match to the donor. . If you’ve privately banked your baby’s cord blood, finding matching cord blood won’t be a problem. Your child will always be an exact match for his or her own cord stem cells. In addition, there’s a 25% chance your child’s cord blood will be an exact match for each of his or her siblings and a 50% chance to be a partial match.

4. Ethnic minorities have an even smaller chance of finding a match at public banks.3

The frequency of certain key cord blood characteristics varies according to ethnicity. Patients in search of matching cord blood, therefore, usually only find a match in samples obtained from members of their particular ethnic group. This puts ethnic minorities at a sharp disadvantage when it comes to locating matching cord blood through public banks. Since there are fewer potential donors from a given minority ethnicity in the general population, the number of samples to choose from at a public bank is limited for members of these groups


Public and private cord blood banks operate differently and serve distinctly different purposes. For families wishing to collect and store their baby’s cord blood for future use, private cord blood banks are worth the financial investment.

As you plan for your child’s birth, determining how to allocate your resources in ways that will benefit your child the most is hard, but necessary, work. If private cord blood banking seems important to you, but you’re worried about how to afford it, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most private cord blood banking facilities offer flexible payment options to help families manage the cost of cord blood collection and storage. Creating a plan that fits your family’s income and budget is not only possible but probably easier than you think.

To learn more about the differences between private and public cord blood banking, read: Private vs Public Cord Blood Banking: What’s the Difference?


1. Why is Cord Blood Banking so Expensive? Parents guide cord blood.

2. Cord Blood Transplantation. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

3. The New York Blood Center’s National Cord Blood Program



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