Cord blood is used to treat almost 80 life-threatening diseases including leukemia, lymphoma, sickle-cell anemia and bone marrow failure syndromes. There are plenty of other reasons parents bank their newborn's cord blood:
"While we shudder to think about the diseases and illnesses our children could get, we wanted to make sure we had every option to help them should they be critically ill," says Ivette M., mother of two.
According to CBR and The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, the cost for processing cord blood and the first year of banking is approximately $2,000. Annual storage fees run around $125. Some banks offer interest-free payment plans, gift registries or opportunities to win free cord blood banking.
There are a number of smaller cord blood banks like M.A.Z.E. that aim to "lower the costs of private banking so finances aren't in the way of making a choice. We don't charge annual storage fees like the big banks," says their spokesperson.
Many parents consider the cost of cord blood banking as an investment with long-term benefits. Mom Michelle L. explains, "It's like taking out insurance. We hope to never need it but if it's not there and we need it in the future, we'll never forgive ourselves for not doing it."
Some parents choose to donate their newborn's cord blood to a public bank for free. "We found it would be better if we donated the blood instead of selfishly hoarding it in the off-chance our son needed it," says mom Jen H. "If everyone donated, everyone would have access to blood if they ever need it. My biggest concern is that most parents aren't aware of the donation option."
Mom Linda W. says, "I decided to donate the cord blood because I thought it was too pricey to bank. Lupus and cancer both run in my family and my husband's and I think there is a future in cord blood research. That was a good option for me and a great way to give back."
Besides the satisfaction of helping others, your child might still benefit from your donation. Marra Francis, an OB-GYN and mom of three, says, "If a public bank has your sample, it's free to you. However, there's no guarantee that your child's cord blood will be there if you need it."
Most banks -- there are both public and private enterprises -- offer information kits and details online to help parents get the information they need to make the best choice for their family.
The CBR spokesperson says, "More than 90 percent of cord blood is thrown away as medical waste. Our hope is that all parents have access to accurate information so that they may make an informed choice about whether to save cord blood for themselves or donate it to a public bank. We hope that less will be thrown away."