How Do You Choose a Family Cord Blood Bank?
by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH
Cord blood banking is a topic being discussed more often by physicians and expectant parents. The dizzying array of information on the Web can be difficult to sift through. Here are my top tips to help soon-to-be parents sift through some important issues when selecting a family cord blood bank.
Do Your Research and Do It Early:
- Talk to family and friends and your physician or midwife to get recommendations.
- Check online for testimonials and reviews. What is the bank’s reputation?
- Don’t assume it’s best to enroll with one close to home. A bank’s headquarters and its storage facility may not even be in the same state.
Know the Regulations and Requirements:
- Has the bank registered with the U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and met all state regulatory requirements?
- Is the bank accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB)? Accreditation, which requires audits every two years, is evidence that your sample is screened, processed, and stored following the strictest quality assurance guidelines.
Be Picky with the Process:
- What delivery method is used to transport the blood? Samples can be destroyed because of improper transit. A reputable bank should use a medical courier company.
- Ask about collection and storage methods, as well as published rates on cell viability to ensure the bank is using the best available technology to save your cells so they will be ready in the event that you might need them.
- Find out if they’ve facilitated any successful transplants. A red flag should go up if a bank has a high volume of cord blood units in storage but has never used a unit for transplant. This could mean transplant surgeons have rejected their cord blood which could mean its procedures are not careful or thorough enough.
Business and Stability:
- How long has the bank been in business?
- Is the bank involved in any research or clinical studies with prestigious medical research institutions? A bank on the cutting edge of research would likely play a stronger and supportive role if the cord blood was needed in treatment for your child.
- How profitable is the company? It’s important to realize cord blood banking is a business. If the bank goes out of business it could mean the cord blood units will be no longer be retrievable.
There’s also an online education site that might help parents understand all of their cord blood banking options.