Here, we offer a clear, jargon-free guide to the key differences between public and private cord blood banks. Is stem cell banking useful in England? And if so, what are your options?

Here at Cells4Life, we think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of us owe our health, well-being and, in numerous instances, our lives to the amazing UK National Health Service.

With its rigorous challenges, it defines the expression “continuous stress-testing”. The NHS is surely, and quite rightly, the envy of the world.

And that’s before we’ve even touched on the bravery and skills of thousands of frontline workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – which we won’t touch on in this blog, not least because there’s not enough room.

Private Vs. Public – The Lowdown

Let’s cut to the chase.

As a business rather than a publicly funded body, Cells4Life charges our customers for the service we offer. The NHS doesn’t.


Whilst this is fundamentally true, the two are not the same in any way.

Public and private cord banks are absolutely NOT in competition for umbilical cord blood. We’ll explain what this means, define the main difference, and explore further the benefits of private stem cell banking when it comes to the needs of your family.

Private Cord Banks

Paid-for stem cell storage services, such as those we offer, are solely for use by the donor, and their family. The extremely high number of stem cells found in cord and umbilical blood immediately after your baby’s birth are harvested, ready for use to treat, and even cure stem-cell treatable diseases; diseases, if we may say so in fact, that currently traditionally suck up much-needed resources in the NHS.

As is no doubt obvious, the benefit here is that there will be a 100% match for the donor. There will also be a high chance of the cells being a close match for a sibling, should they develop a condition suitable for stem cell therapy.

Cells4Life has four cord blood pricing packages, enabling you to choose the best service for your family. You can read more about our bundles here.

Public Cord Banks

Public banks store donated umbilical cord blood. They are free of charge, and solely for the benefit of others. In effect, a public donation is a uniquely altruistic act, potentially saving the life of someone who may be a good match, rather than an exact, or a near one.

In other words, a total stranger could enjoy a whole new lease of life, thanks to the kindness of someone they don’t know and have never met. A wholly wonderful thing, of course.

A couple of things to know, however:

Currently, public banks do NOT store cord tissue, just cord blood.

Logistical problems can hamper the process. The actual collection of cord blood can be an issue for public banks; there are still only a small number of hospitals in the UK which enable new mothers to do this. (Remember, stem cells will need to be removed very shortly after birth and stored immediately.)

Private Banking

  • Exclusive use of your own stem cells.
  • Always a perfect match sample. You choose when/if sample is retrieved for transplants, whether it is for emerging, experimental, or regenerative therapies.
  • Choice of Tissue and Placenta storage options.
  • Sample retained for as long as you choose.
  • Prices start from £1,950*
  • Access to autologous clinical trials.
  • Access to cutting edge processing technology ensuring higher yield of stem cells.
*price correct as of April 2023

Public Banking

  • Anyone can access your stem cells.
  • Available if there is a matched sample, used for transplant only. The sample cannot be retrieved if matched to a donor.
  • Only umbilical cord blood.
  • The sample may be used for research or simply discarded without your knowledge or consent.
  • Free to donate, subject to availability. Only a limited number of hospitals offer this as an option.
  • Help save a life. Anthony Nolan Charity offers cord blood donations with the aim of supporting people affected by Blood Cancer and Blood Disorders. Find out more here.

More Generally

The NHS saves lives.

It’s not just an important saying or a phrase. It is undoubtedly true. Here, we have to oversimplify somewhat, but you’ll understand why – and, it should be said, these are largely our opinions based on anecdotal evidence. On the whole, whilst our National Health Service tries hard to prevent illness through positive, proactive messages and advice, its focus has been and continues to be saving lives and treating illnesses.

Specifically, through no fault of its own, being more reactive than proactive.

It’s worth bearing in mind that our healthier, longer lives come with more age-related conditions – dementia, for example. We’re paying the price for our longevity.

There has been less room, a smaller budget and fewer resources for experimental treatments. Equally, patients with more “complicated” ailments or diseases may not always be able to rely fully on the NHS. The reasons for this are most likely many and complicated. Priorities need to be established.

The many, rather than the few, perhaps.

Stem Cell Banking – Paying it Forwards

The question, “Is stem cell banking useful in England?” raises an interesting point.

From Cells4Life, the answer is an unequivocal “yes”.

The argument for taking our health into our own hands is a strong one. Being able better to steer the destiny of our offspring in terms of their health and wellbeing could be a life-affirming legacy like no other.

We’ve put together a few bullet points, hopefully to point you in the right direction.

Cord Blood Banking FAQs

Why should I store cord blood and tissue in a stem cell bank?

Because stem cells could be the most important part of your baby’s future health. These cells are important building blocks that can be used to treat the diseases and conditions that limit and damage humans’ lives, such as cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, anaemia – even dementia; the list is as extensive as it is exciting.

How does stem cell banking work?

Cells4Life can make all the necessary arrangements, further to you deciding on your chosen package.

A phlebotomist will arrange for tissue and blood to be taken very soon after you have given birth and ensure that it is stored safely and securely for years to come. And that, really, is that – easy, discreet, painless and – in safe hands.

Is the service you offer available on the NHS?

In a word, no – at least not in the same way. As mentioned in this blog, public cord blood banking exists entirely for the benefit of others. To support the potential, future health needs of YOUR family, why not find out more by downloading an information pack from Cells4Life?

It’s full of useful, easy to read information to help you give your unborn child the best possible start in life.

Would you like to maximise a once in a lifetime opportunity? And, make serious disease for future generations – especially YOUR future generation – a thing of the past?

Our dependence on the NHS will continue. Let’s lighten the load in the future if we can.

Request a Welcome Pack

Find out more about cord blood banking by downloading a Welcome Pack now.


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    If someone you love has blood cancer, whether it’s leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, MDS or any other type of blood cancer, you’ll want to support them as best you can. Get practical and emotional help to support a family member or friend with blood cancer. And find out about your rights if you’re a carer from Blood Cancer UK here.

    For current information on where you can donate your baby’s umbilical cord, please visit National Health Service Blood and Transplant‘s own website here. Additionally, you can find out more about the great work achieved by the Anthony Nolan Charitable Trust using umbilical cord blood transplants here.

    None of the information on this website pertains to medical advice. For medical advice and support with your healthcare, please speak to your designated healthcare provider.

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