Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your baby. It's an exciting time, and you probably have a lot on your mind anticipating the arrival of your new baby. Your pregnancy is also a time that presents an opportunity to do something extraordinary for your baby and your family—the opportunity to preserve your newborn's cord blood stem cells.
Currently, according to the National Cord Blood Program, the stem cells in your baby's cord blood can be used in the treatment of nearly 70 chronic or life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia and other cancers, genetic and blood diseases, and a range of immune system deficiencies. Plus, researchers are now looking to cord blood for answers to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and muscular dystrophy.
Here are key questions to ask before selecting the company that you will entrust with the critical task of preserving your baby's cord blood:
- Is the company accredited by The American Association of Blood Banks (AABB)?
- How experienced is the cord blood banking company and do they guarantee their product?
- Is the company financially stable?
- What the company would do with your cord blood if they were to go out of business?
- Do they have a reasonable plan to accommodate customers should that eventuality occur? An example of such a plan would be a formal written agreement with another medical facility that would take over the management of the cord blood units.
- How long the company has been preserving cord blood?
- Is the company a division of a larger corporation, and does it have academic affiliations, research collaborations, or equity partnerships with major biotechnology companies? If it does, this would provide proof that the company will most likely be around for the long term.
Make sure that the cord blood banking company you are considering is fully accredited by the AABB, and that the accreditation is specifically for the processing of cord blood stem cells. The AABB is the only accreditation that ensures high standards of quality for the processing and storage of your baby's cord blood.
Some banks are fee-paying members of the AABB, but that's not the same as being fully accredited. To be accredited, the cord blood banking company must have its laboratory and administrative procedures reviewed, inspected, and validated regularly, and their procedures must be compliant with the guidelines established by AABB for cord blood processing.
It's even better if the cord blood banking company you select is recognized by AABB as having procedures that represent exceptional and novel practices in the industry.
You should ask the company you're considering how many cord blood units they have stored, and whether they have facilitated any successful transplants.
You should be cautious of a company that has a high number of cord blood units collected and stored, but has never or rarely used a unit for transplant. This could be an indication that transplant physicians have rejected their cord blood—a warning flag that the company's procedures may not be thorough.
Best of all is if the company offers a quality product guarantee. This ensures that you are dealing with a quality-conscious company dedicated to providing the highest quality processing and cryopreservation of your baby's cord blood.
Cord blood banking is a costly industry. Some companies have gone out of business and parents have actually lost their cord blood units. Assessing a company's long-term financial future is difficult, however there are a few critical questions you should ask.