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Cord Blood Banking: Medical Miracle or Ripoff?

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Cord blood banking -- the process of harvesting and storing the nutrient-rich blood from a newborn's umbilical cord -- allegedly offers a lifetime of protection for your child. Using promises like that, the ads are hard to ignore -- even more so if you're a first-time parent inundated with options promising a better life for your new offspring.

But these promises do not come without a hefty price tag: Private cord blood banking can cost nearly $3,000 initially, plus $100 a month for storage thereafter. Is it worth it?

ABC News recently launched a huge investigation into cord blood banking. The whole series can be watched online at

There's a long list of diseases -- including leukemia, sickle cell anemia and cerebral palsy --that are treated by cord blood stem cells. But Dr. Machi Scaradavou, a pediatric oncologist, told ABC News, "The chance of somebody needing their own cord blood is extremely, extremely low."

However, some parents say the expense is well worth it. We recently brought you the story of Lisa Sorenson, who banked her child's cord blood knowing that she would be born with an extreme case of congenital hydrocephalus. Her daughter Elisabeth, now 3, recently received her first blood stem-cell transfusion, and will have several others later in life to treat the myriad illnesses caused by her birth defects.

While Lisa's family is not sure if the treatment will work, she says anything is worth trying to extend her daughter's young life.

What do you think of cord blood banking?

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34 comments so far | Post a comment now
Cassandra May 10, 2010, 8:23 AM

Rip off
Cord Blood Banking = Cryogenically freezing a corpse.

Mark May 10, 2010, 3:27 PM

Public cord blood banking is useful and saves lives. Private banking of cord blood for a hematopoietic sources has about a 1 in 400 or more chance of being used over the course of a lifetime according to some statistics. Cord blood is likely to be useful as a source of induced pluripotent cells, since the stem cells can be reprogramed.

John May 11, 2010, 4:19 AM

It is not affordable to all and that is sad. If it has the potential to help our children then why is it not made available to everyone? I am a father of three and have had two of My childrens stem cells stored,being told that it was noy neccesary to have the third childs because the other two would be able to be used for the third if needed.I am not sure about the reality of wether it might work, I just happened to be in the finacial position to afford the cost. So we did it, and hope we never have to know! I would love to hear more about this, seeing I was sold this option by my wifes doctor.

Jensational May 11, 2010, 5:48 AM

I donated my son’s cord blood. It was extremely easy and free. Requested a kit and received it and brought it to the hospital and the nurses knew what to do with it. I’d recommend that to everyone. The cord blood is there and used by someone who needs it for whatever purpose but you’re not stuck paying high fees.

All About Cord Blood May 11, 2010, 8:25 AM

Cord blood preservation is an amazing medical miracle! It is unfortunate that so much negative light is being shed on such an important aspect of the medical future which is stem cells. I understand that cost is an issue, however CorCell is one cord blood bank that is very willing to work with your family on a budget. It’s a very small price to pay to ensure your family’s future.

Elaine November 16, 2010, 5:25 PM

When you look at children who are alive today because their parents stored their cord blood, it answers why, but it’s hard to work through the maze of companies that offer it. We just started with a comparison of companies, and an answer to ‘why’ and ‘how’.

Elaine November 16, 2010, 5:28 PM

When you see children who are alive today because their parents stored their cord blood, it answers ‘why’. Unfortunately, there’s a huge maze to get through in this issue. You only get one chance to get this right.

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