While stored cord blood may benefit an unrelated donor if a match presents itself – unbeknownst to the donor family - it also may be collected and stored to someday be used by the donor child (or possibly a sibling or other relative) if he or she ever developed certain disorders or diseases. By collecting and storing this blood, potentially life-saving stem cells are preserved.
Cord blood collection and storage for a donor family’s own use is conducted by private blood banks. These companies argue that the procedure is a harmless but possibly life-saving insurance policy in case a donor child ever develops certain diseases. However, many of the most prominent and authoritative medical associations do not suggest the procedure for most potential donors. While they often will not prohibit a family from storing cord blood for future use, they do tell their patients that the potential benefits are very remote compared with the costs. One reason for this is that the diseases and conditions that may be treated with a cord blood transplant are very rare.
And, while the chances of ever using privately banked cord blood are extremely small, the costs are very expensive. While prices vary, typical charges include up to $1,800 for the initial collection and processing and annual storage fees of about $100. Medical professionals believe that cord blood may be good for up to 10 years, but researchers do not know how long the cells will last after that mark.