Store or donate stem cells
Private cord blood banks vs. Public cord blood banks
Umbilical cord blood is much too good to throw away. Therefore, many parents want to store their offspring’s cord blood to preserve a bit of safety for the future. They ask themselves: “Stem cells for individual precaution or donate them publicly?”.
Public donation of umbilical cord blood
Public cord blood banks store donated umbilical cord blood, which comes into consideration for transplantation to unknown recipients. The donated blood is listed in a public register anonymously.
Parents need to bear in mind though that more than half of the donations does not meet the strict quality standards for allogeneic stem cell transplants, e.g. the minimum cell count. They are therefore unsuited for long-term storage and will be either discarded or used in research. At the end, public cord blood banks actually store only one third of the donated umbilical cord bloods for quality, financial, and resource reasons. Many parents disapprove that they do not get any feedback whether the donated umbilical cord blood was stored or not, when they donate it to a public cord blood bank.
Nevertheless, donating umbilical cord blood to a public bank may save lives. There is, however, no guarantee that the donated blood is available for application to yourself or your family in case of need.
Individual precaution differs from that: If you store the umbilical cord blood with a private stem cell bank like Vita 34, the stem cells are available for later application exclusively to the child itself or family members.
Donation or storage: VitaPlusDonation makes the decision easier
Even a couple of years ago, parents had to choose one of both variants, either private storage or public donation. Thanks to the VitaPlusDonation option, today you can combine both. Storing the stem cells from the umbilical cord for your child and donating the stem cells – the ideal combination of individual precaution and public donation of stem cells.
By choosing the option VitaPlusDonation, parents agree that the anonymized tissue characteristics are forwarded to a public stem cell register. Before that, they examine carefully, whether the umbilical cord blood is suited for donation. The donation note including the special HLA characteristics is furthermore recorded on the Vita 34 storage certificate.
Doctors all over the world can look for suitable donors for their patients by checking the HLA characteristics in the stem cell register. For this purpose, Vita 34 and international partners have established the public stem cell register StemCellSearch and operate the online portal 365 days a year. If doctors, patients, or relatives find what they are looking for in their research, they can send a request to Vita 34. Vita 34 forwards this request promptly to the parents of the potential stem cell donor. At last instance, they decide whether the stem cell deposit of their child is released for allogeneic transplantation.
By the way… If parents opt to donate their child’s stem cells to help others, Vita 34 will reimburse the fees paid so far for VitaPlusDonation plus interest.
Vita 34 stands for highest safety and quality standards
The excellent quality of Vita 34 stem cell preparations facilitates the application within the family. This is confirmed by Paul Ehrlich Institute, an entity of the Federal Ministry of Health that reviews the licensing of vaccines and biomedical medicinal products, through the licenses granted to Vita 34. This way, siblings, parents, and grandparents may benefit from the stored umbilical cord blood in emergencies.
Like a fingerprint: HLA characteristics
The abbreviation HLA stands for human leukocyte antigens. They are a group of genes essential for the immune system to function and as unique as the human being itself. Therefore, we speak of the genetic fingerprint.
The transplantation of stem cells and tissue can be successful only when the HLA characteristics of donor and recipient match, i.e. they are almost genetic twins. Otherwise, the graft will be rejected..
Statistically, twins have at least a chance of 25 percent that the HLA characteristics of one child match those of the other child. Vita 34 offers a very special service by means of the sibling initiative..
If a critically ill child needs a stem cell therapy and a brother or sister is born to the family, Vita 34 stores the umbilical cord blood of the newborn at no charge for five years. The parents only need the confirmation of the doctor in attendance of the sick child that the treatment with stem cells from umbilical cord blood represents a therapeutic option.