Updated June 2013

Before your baby is born, think about what you’ll do with his umbilical cord blood. You may store this stem-cell-rich blood for your own family’s use, donate it for use by an anonymous person in need of stem cells, donate it for research, or discard it.

Why save it?

Stem-cell-rich cord blood is currently being used to treat more than 70 life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, leukemia, sickle cell anemia, and cerebral palsy. Every year, about 30,000 people are diagnosed with diseases that can be treated with umbilical cord blood.

Like community or hospital blood banks, cord-blood banks are regulated by the FDA, which has developed standards regulating future cord-blood collection and storage.

How is it collected?

It takes about five minutes to collect stem-cell blood after the birth of your baby. Obstetricians, nurse midwives, nurses, or trained technicians collect it and freeze it immediately for later use. The collection procedure is safe, sterile, and causes no discomfort to you or your newborn.

How is it used?

You may donate your baby’s blood to the state’s only public cord blood bank, New Jersey Cord Blood Bank (NJCBB), operated by Community Blood Services, at no charge. It then becomes available for use by any person with a life-threatening disease who may need it. (For more information, visitcommunitybloodservices.org/cordblood.php). If you elect to save your baby’s cord blood at a private bank, it is for use by your family only.

How much does it cost?

If you collect your baby’s cord blood in a private bank, you’ll pay from $1,000 to $2,000 initially, plus an annual fee of $125 or so to store it. There may be other fees for a collection kit, courier service, and initial processing.

What is Placental Blood Banking?

Placental blood, like cord blood, is rich in stem cells, and is now being collected by some public and private banks. By collecting and banking both types of blood, the total yield of stem cells is increased. Though the two collection procedures are often performed together, the blood is processed and banked separately. Blood in public banks may be used for research.

Sources: Community Blood Services; New Jersey Dept. of Health and Senior Services; Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood; National Marrow Donor Program