Public vs Private Cord Blood Banks

Public vs Private Cord Blood Banks

Private or Public? Deciding which Cord Blood Bank is Right for You

If you’ve already made the important decision to save your baby’s cord blood and stem cells, you may be thinking about the best place to bank it. Should you donate your child’s cord blood to a public bank? Or should you store it with a private bank for your own family’s exclusive use?

Here are some helpful facts to consider as you decide between private and public cord blood banking.

What is a Public Cord Blood Bank?

Public cord blood banking is free, but you give up your rights to the cord blood stem cells at the time of donation. Just like donating to a blood bank, this means your donation would be owned by the public bank, and not by you. Your donated cord blood stem cells could be used for medical research or could possibly save a life through a transplant. Public banks release your child’s stem cells when a good match from a registry is identified.[1]

Click here to learn more about public cord blood banks.

What is a Private Cord Blood Bank?

Private cord blood banks store the cord blood stem cells for you in case your child or someone in your immediate family needs it in the future. These private collections are owned by you and you decide how your baby’s cord blood is used. Also, there are processing and storage fees associated with private banking.

Click here to learn more about private cord blood banks.

Private Banking vs. Public Banking
Private Banking Public Banking
Do We Own the Cord Blood Stem Cells? Yes, you own the cells and decide how and when they are used. No, you give up ownership to the cells as soon as you donate them.
How Much Does it Cost? You pay for collection and processing as a one-time fee at the baby’s birth. Then each year, you will pay a storage fee. The public bank will not charge you for the collection or storage.
Are We Guaranteed Access to the Cord Blood Stem Cells? Yes, you and your doctors control the use of your baby’s stem cells. No, access is not guaranteed, and the stem cells may have been used already by another patient if you need them.
How Long Does it Take for Stem Cells to be Available for Transplant? The stem cells are immediately available once a match is confirmed. The search and match process may take weeks or months, and finding a match is not guaranteed.[2]
How Likely is it that the Stem Cells will be a Match? 100% for the child. For siblings, there is a 1 in 4 chance of a perfect match.[3] The likelihood varies depending on the stem cells available.

A Donation to a Public Stem Cell Bank May Not Be Available for Your Future Use

If you donate to a public bank, it is highly unlikely you’ll still be able to access your child’s cord blood if you need it since:

  • Donations to public cord blood banks are available to anyone who is a match.
    If your child needed a stem cell transplant, the process your child’s physician would use to search public cord blood banks for a match would be the same whether you donated or not. This search and match process can take weeks or even months, and there is no guarantee that a match will be found. Your child’s cord blood could already have been donated to an unrelated recipient.
  • Only about 20% of donations to public cord blood banks end up being stored.[4]
    Public banks have strict criteria for screening and storing donated cord blood. They only store collections that contain enough stem cells to transplant a large child or small adult, so there is a chance your public cord blood donation may not even be saved.[2]

On the other hand, with a private cord blood bank like Lifebank, you know that your child’s cord blood stem cells are immediately available if and when you need them.

Your Medical History Makes a Difference

If you have a personal or family medical history of certain cancers or other diseases that can be treated with stem cell transplantation, you may want to consider private cord blood banking. Think of investing in private banking as providing peace of mind that gives your family immediate access to a related source of stem cells if needed.

Private Cord Blood Banking Keeps it in the Family

With private banking, your baby has a 100% guaranteed match if he/she ever needs a transplant. Furthermore, banking privately also increases the odds that other family members will have access to a transplant match if they need one. Your baby’s siblings have a 1-in-4 chance of a perfect match and other immediate family members have a 30% chance of a transplant-acceptable match.[3]

Do Your Research

Whether you decide to bank with a private or public one, take the time to look into the reputation and accreditations of the facility you choose. Banking your baby’s cord blood is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Cord blood banks – especially private ones – vary widely in terms of quality, experience, and even the technology they use to collect, process and store cord blood.

According to The Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating parents about cord blood therapies and storage options, you should stick with well-established cord blood laboratories that have been accredited by agencies such as AABB or FACT.[5] For example, Lifebank is registered with the FDA and accredited by AABB so banking with Lifebank is a smart choice for you and your family.

Find out more about Lifebank’s approach to cord blood stem cell banking.


  1. WebMD. Cord Blood Banking: Deciding About Public or Private Donations. Available at Accessed December 21, 2020.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HRSA: Transplant Frequently Asked Questions. Available at Accessed December 21, 2020.
  3. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Unrelated Donor Transplants. Available at Accessed December 21, 2020.
  4. Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation. Frequently Asked Questions: What fraction of cord blood donations get accepted? Available at Accessed December 23, 2020.
  5. Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation. Frequently Asked Questions: Why is it important to choose a Family Bank that is accredited? Available at Accessed December 23, 2020.