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, 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 cord blood bank, and not by you. Your donated cord blood stem cells would be used for medical research or could possibly save a life through a transplant. Public cord blood banks release your child’s stem cells when a good match from a registry is identified.[1]

What is a Private Cord Blood Bank?

Private cord blood banks store the cord blood 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. There are processing and storage fees associated with privately banking.

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 may be unlikely.
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 and a 39% chance of a transplant-acceptable match.[5] The likelihood varies depending on the stem cells available.

A Donation to a Public Cord Blood Bank May Not Be Available for Your Future Use

If you donate to a public cord blood 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 25-50% of donations to public cord blood banks end up being stored.[3]
    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

With a private cord blood bank like LifebankUSA, you know that your child’s cord blood stem cells are immediately available if and when you need it.

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 cord blood banking as providing peace of mind that gives your family immediate access to a related source of stem cells if needed. Published research also shows that transplants using related cord blood donor cells increase the likelihood of success.[4],[5]

Private Cord Blood Banking Keeps it in the Family

With private cord blood banking, your baby has a 100% guaranteed match if he/she ever needs a transplant. Banking with a private cord blood bank 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.[6]

Do Your Research

Whether you decide to bank with a private cord blood bank or a 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, FACT or ISO.[7] 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 how we stack up against the competition.


  1. WebMD. Cord Blood Banking: Deciding About Public or Private Donations. Available at Accessed November 23, 2015.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HRSA: Transplant Frequently Asked Questions. Available at Accessed November 23, 2015
  3. Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation. Frequently Asked Questions: Donate Cord Blood. Available at Accessed October 9, 2015.
  4. Gluckman E et al. For the Eurocord Transplant Group and the European Blood and Marrow Transplantation Group. Outcome of cord-blood transplantation from related and unrelated donors. N Engl J Med. 1997;337:373-381.
  5. Rocha V et al. For the Eurocord and International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry Working Committee on Alternative Donor and Stem Cell Sources. Graft-vs-host disease in children who have received a cord-blood or bone marrow transplant from an HLA-identical sibling. N Engl J Med. 2000;342:1846-1854.
  6. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Unrelated Donor Transplants. Available at Accessed October 9, 2015.
  7. Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation. WSJ: Inside the Private Umbilical Cord Blood Banking Business. Available at Accessed October 9, 2015.