A newborn child’s umbilical cord contains valuable stem cells. Millions of parents spend thousands to privately bank their baby’s cord blood in the hope that it could be used to cure it of certain diseases in the future.
The umbilical cord blood business is huge, estimated at $4 billion worldwide. The Bay Area is home to the biggest private blood bank of them all, Cord Blood Registry (CBR).
“We are the world’s largest family cord blood bank. We have over a half million individual samples in storage,” Cord Blood Registry CEO Geoff Crouse said.
The company’s website and brochures tout the many benefits of storing cord blood. What they don’t emphasize is that very few children ever receive treatment from their own stem cells.
“There’s a low likelihood of use, but still a probability,” said Crouse. “We’ve had 100 families benefit from using stem cells in their current application.”