Public vs Private Cord Blood Banking in the UK

Each country will have its processes and options around pregnancy. What to do when you go into labour? Home or hospital birth? What can I do with the placenta? Should I bank my stem cells?

A lot of these things you can discuss with your doctor, family, and birth partner but when it comes to stem cells there are a couple of options, each with its benefits, for you to choose from. In this article, we hope to lay out these storage options for you so that if you want your baby’s cord blood stem cells stored, you will know more about what’s involved.

So, let’s get started.

NHS Public Cord Blood Bank

In the UK there is a way to donate and publicly store umbilical cord blood. The cells will not be exclusively available to you and your family but rather they are in the public system. This means that anyone waiting on a donation list that comes up as a close or partial match will have access to treatment using those cells.

This service is completely free but can only take place in a limited number of hospitals so some planning needs to go into banking publicly. 

First off you need to inform your doctor and midwife of your plan and obtain the registration forms. You will also need to fill out consent forms before the birth of your baby. You can do these online, but it may also be worth attaching hard copies to your birth plan. If not attached, have it written in your birth plan anyway just so no one forgets.

The biggest thing you must be aware of when banking publicly is that there is only a limited number of hospitals that will provide this service. Before you sign up and give consent, be certain that your hospital offers collection services. There are lists available online to help you out if you get stuck, but it is always worth asking directly.

Private Cord Blood Banking

Choosing a cord blood bank for private storage means that throughout their lifetime, your baby will have access to a safety net for the rest of their life. Their siblings will also benefit from these cells, due to the high likelihood of at least a partial biological match.

To store you will need a company that provides this service. Cells4Life is a good example plus they offer much more than just cord blood banking. They also offer cord tissue and placenta banking to increase the range of stem cells available to you.

Once you have contacted your cell bank, they should send you a kit in the post. This collection kit has everything in it ready for your phlebotomist (either one you have picked, or one provided for you) to carry out the collection.

When it comes to private storage you should know that it comes with costs. Depending on what you want to store, you will need to pay for the service you get. This does mean however that your child will have a 100% genetic match available to them.

Store or Donate?

This is a decision that is entirely up to you but knowing what each choice has to offer will help you make the best choice for you and your family. Cord blood stem cells can currently treat over 80 conditions worldwide including certain blood disorders and blood cancers. Talk to your birth partner, doctors, and family to see what will work for you.

*Collaborative post.

Rachael is a 31 year old mum to 10 year old Luke and 5 year old Oscar. She lives in England and writes about family life, crafts, recipes, parenting wins(and fails), as well as travel, days out, fashion and living the frugal lifestyle.

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