Alex at diagnosis - 11/10/98It’s been 13 years since my daughter Alex’s 1st Cord Blood Transplant & people still don’t realize that you should donate to a public cord blood bank, not bank the cord blood privately. It definitely doesn’t help when a celebrity couple like Giuliana and Bill Rancic come out in favor of private cord blood banking (Giuliana and Bill Rancic: Why we banked Duke’s cord blood).

Don’t be fooled by “for profit” Cord Blood Banks that offer to bank your child’s Cord Blood privately. If your child does get Cancer and needs a transplant, their own Cord Blood will not be used for that transplant. And if a sibling of your child needs a transplant, bone marrow from the sibling will be used rather than the banked cord blood. Donating your child’s Cord Blood to a public Cord Blood Bank will do a lot more good than banking it privately. Alex was diagnosed w/ Leukemia at 10 months old and had two Cord Blood Transplants, and both of the donations came from public Cord Blood Banks. This quote from Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, who performed both of Alex’s Cord Blood Transplants, sums it up nicely:

“Childhood leukemia is one of the diseases private banks like to play up, but most kids with leukemia are cured with chemotherapy alone. If a transplant is needed, we wouldn’t use a child’s tainted cord blood.” — Joanne Kurtzberg, Duke University Medical Center

If you’re pregnant, I would encourage you to donate your child’s cord blood to any of the hospitals affiliated with the NMDP (National Marrow Donor Program). There’s no cost to you and you just might save a life. Alex is alive today because somebody donated their child’s cord blood to the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank at Duke University Medical Center. For those of you not familiar with Alex’s story you can read all about it at Alex Update.

P.S. This is an excerpt from a 2005 article Business Week article. Some of the statistics may be outdated (i.e. i hope there are more than 22 Public Cord Blood Banks now), but the main point of the article still rings true today:

Cord Blood For A Rainy Day
Business Week, 6/19/2005

“The science of stem cells is confusing enough. But for some parents, it’s also expensive. Worried their newborn might miss out on medical breakthroughs, parents are rushing to store blood from the umbilical cord. At Cord Blood Registry, the largest private storage bank, enrollments rose 120% in May over a year earlier. The San Bruno (Calif.) outfit has 300,000 samples frozen at a storage facility in Tucson. It charges $1,975 to store blood, plus an annual $125 maintenance fee. “Like home insurance and car insurance, this is just-in-case insurance,” says Stephen Grant, the bank’s co-founder.

“But the American Academy of Pediatrics says private storage is “unwise” unless families have a history of diseases such as sickle cell anemia. (In those cases, Cord Blood Registry will store it for free.) Usually donors and recipients need only have the same racial or ethnic heritage. “The chances that your own child will need to use banked cord blood are extremely low,” says Dr. Maria Escolar, a stem cell researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A better idea, she says: donate to one of 22 public banks for use in transplants and research.”

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