Cord blood banking: questions to ask and how to choose the right family cord blood bank
Cord blood banking is a boon for today’s parents. However, discussing the matter with one’s partner becomes difficult as the really important aspects can be somewhat obscure. Here is a comparison of the family cord blood banks in Singapore for your convenience.
Many adults may live their whole lives not knowing of the technological and medical marvel available to today’s families that is cord blood banking. This is perhaps due in part to how small its window of relevance is (only to expecting couples) and the complexity that comes with explaining it.
Fortunately and undeniably, cord blood banking has been gaining popularity over the past few years. You’ve probably seen more than one family cord blood banking booth over the course of your baby fair visits.
In a recent article, we attempted to demystify cord blood banking. Here, we are going to touch upon the practical aspects of choosing a family cord blood bank. Hopefully, by the end of the article, couples will be able to make an informed decision.
Factors to consider
If you’re still wondering whether or not to opt for family cord blood banking, ponder upon these:
- Cord blood banking can only be done at the time of birth, there are no second chances.
- It is still a lot easier, safer and cheaper than finding a donor in case the need arises.
- It has tremendous potential as continuous research is being done on its application.
- The investment amount is manageable as there are family cord blood banks that offer various financing packages.
There are so many family cord blood banks. How do I choose?
Prima facie, all the family cord blood banks appear the same. However, we did a comparison of the three family cord blood banks in Singapore. For the sake of anonymity, they will only be named A, B, and C.
Years of Operation
Family cord blood bank A, established in 2001, has been the longest in operation, followed closely by family cord blood bank B, which was established in 2002. Family cord blood bank C is the most recent with its establishment only in 2013.
Family cord blood bank A owns its own laboratory and storage facility and has a storage capacity enough for 650,000 families. Meanwhile, family cord blood bank B has a rented space, and this may lead to fluctuations in the storage fees paid by parents, depending on the rental rates. As for family cord blood bank C, it does not own any laboratory or storage facility but instead has a contractual agreement with one of the hospitals in Singapore.
When you sign up for cord blood banking, these family cord blood banks agree to store your child’s stem cells for a lifetime. But what if the company folds? What happens to your precious cord blood stem cells then?
Family cord blood bank A is a SGX-listed company. This implies that they are transparent in their processes, and are highly accountable, especially to the parents who have chosen them. Family cord blood bank B is a private limited company, while family cord blood bank C has its origins in India.
When you sign up, be sure to ask the family cord blood bank about their contingency plan(s).
Family cord blood bank A, established in 2001, is Southeast Asia’s first dual accredited family cord blood bank – AABB-accredited in 2005 and FACT-accredited in 2015. Meanwhile, family cord blood bank B was FACT-accredited in 2013 and family cord blood bank C does not hold any accreditations as they do not operate their own storage facility.
Technology is one of the most important factors to consider when signing up with a family cord blood bank. The processing method determines the cell recovery rate and viability of your child’s cord blood stem cells.
Family cord blood bank A is the first to adopt the Sepax®2 technology – a closed, automated stem cell processing technology that maximises the number of stem cells harvested from your child’s cord blood. Also, family cord blood banks B and C have since adopted the same technology.
The next crucial step is ensuring the cells are carefully prepared for cryopreservation so that they can be stored indefinitely while retaining its viability for treatment purposes.
Family cord blood bank A is the only cord blood bank in Singapore to adopt the Smart-MaxTM technology – a fully automated cryoprotectant infuser, mixer and cooling device that allows for the consistent preparation of stem cells for cryopreservation. This makes them the only cord blood bank in Singapore that offers fully automated processing from receipt to storage, thus reducing the chance of human error, and increasing the cell recovery rate and viability of your child’s cord blood stem cells. Data about the other two family blood banks is unavailable.
Unique Service Offerings
Family cord blood bank A is the sole provider of umbilical cord lining in Singapore. In fact, they are only 1 of 4 family cord blood banks worldwide that have been licensed to store umbilical cord lining. This essentially means that parents are able to maximise the medical options of their child and family members by storing 2 additional types of stem cells – Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) and Epithelial Stem Cells (EpSC). This increases their medical options for possible therapeutic and regenerative applications in the future, especially for conditions that currently have no known cure. There are no other family cord blood banks in Singapore that offer this service.
To summarise, here is a comparison chart between the three family cord blood banks in Singapore:
When you enrol for cord blood banking, you should receive two things at the point of enrolment:
- A personalised cord blood collection kit to bring with you to the hospital on the day of delivery
- A contact number to call as soon as you deliver
Other important questions parents-to-be should ask
While we have shared the main assessment parameters to consider, as potential users of this service, here are a few more questions that you should ask:
- In the event that the company folds/is taken over by another company/ceases this line of business, what happens to your child’s cord blood?
- What is the family cord blood bank’s transplant track records? How many releases have they had so far?
- What are the pricing plans available? Is there any flexibility in the repayment methods?
The decision to store your child’s precious stem cells is an important one as you have only one chance to do so – at birth. To find out more on how you can go about securing a lifetime of protection for your family, here’s a list of the two home grown family cord blood banks in Singapore: