Is Private Cord Blood Banking Worth The Cost?

Jeevan has always been saying this and we are happy that it is being endorsed: “The chance of baby later benefiting from his or her own banked cord blood is currently less than 0.04 percent, according to the ASBMT. Not only is that because the diseases currently treatable with cord blood are fairly rare, but with many, the child’s cord blood would be unusable because those stem cells contain the same genetic defects, said Shearer, who co-authored the AAP policy statement.” “But should you bank, or donate? Consider the likelihood of using those stem cells. Several medical groups — including the American Medical Association, theAmerican Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the ASBMT andAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)—have issued policy statements and opinions related to cord blood banking. The groups recommend public bank donation over private banking because the cord blood has limited personal applications.”The best case for private banking is if there’s already a family history of one of the diseases currently treatable with cord blood, said Giralt, who is also chief attending physician of the adult bone marrow transplant service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.” Read the full article here: Is Cord Blood Banking Worth the Cost? Here’s What the Experts Say

Quality of Stem Cells Stored by Jeevan

How does Jeevan Stem Cell Bank fare in comparison to global standards? A question asked by Transplant Physicians. Here is the comparison between Netcord, American Association of Blood Banks and Jeevan:

Click on the image for readable format.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 8.07.29 am

Number of cord blood derived stem cells in each unit is a critical factor. Jeevan is committed to align its processes to international standards to ensue the best outcome of transplants.

BetheCure Logo

Over 50% of cord blood donations are not processed by Jeevan . Why?

In a recent meeting to create awareness on cord blood donation, a parent asked why Jeevan rejects almost 50% of cord blood donations before processing when we do not hear about such a practice by private cord blood banks. Here are the facts:
  1. When used for transplant, the patient (usually a child) will need a minimum of 25 million cells per KG of body weight. Assuming the body weight is 20 KG, the number of cells required is more than 500 million cells.
  2. When the cells are taken out after storage for a period of time, approximately 20% of cells lose the function. Hence it is recommended to have more than 750 million cells to start with. More the viable cells, better the outcome.
  3. To get this number of cells, the amount of cord blood required will be more 70 ml.
  4. Also, the cord blood should not have any Wharton’s Jelly or clots.
More than 50 % of cord blood donations do not meet these criteria and hence we reject them.
Is this peculiar to Public Cord Blood Bank? Is it not seen when you pay and store in a Private Cord Blood Bank?. Question, you need to ask when you pay and store.
Have a question send it to stemcell at jeevan dot org

Chennai School Children Help In Voluntary Blood Donation


This is what Mrs. Chitra Prasad, Principal & Correspondent of NSN Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Chennai has to say about organizing a blood donation camp at her school:

‘A generous heart, a kind gesture and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.’

‘Donating Blood is a divine experience’ – as the maxim goes, blood donation helps both the donor and the recipient.  Every drop of blood creates a difference.  For us it’s just a few moments out of our day, but for the recipients, it may mean their life!

Dr. Saranya Narayan, the Founder Trustee and Medical Director of Jeevan Blood Bank, conducted an Awareness Programme in our school for the students of Std X to XII and motivated them to persuade their parents / family members to donate blood. She enlightened them on the importance of blood donation and emphasized on how vital it is to donate blood in order to save a few valuable lives.

The blood donation camp was organized by Jeevan Blood Bank in our school premises on 3rd March 2012.  It was conducted very smoothly and meticulously. The camp was arranged between 9.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m.

A team of technologists and doctors, under the leadership and able guidance of Mrs.Sheela Ranganathan, the Donor Support Manager of Jeevan Blood Bank, arrived sharply at 9.00 a.m. and arranged beds and equipments for the camp. The Donors (parents and teachers) who turned up in large numbers registered their names and filled in a form containing questions pertaining to their personal medical history. After scrutinizing the medical history of the donors, they were sent for a screening test in an orderly manner. Dr.Yathindra Kumar, the Medical Officer of Jeevan Blood Bank, conducted the screening test scrupulously.  After the screening, the eligible donors were sent for donating blood. The donors were made to lie down at ease in the bed and a serene atmosphere was provided for the noble deed. The team members operated with perfect co-ordination and understanding and made the donors feel very comfortable. The donors were treated very kindly and were given refreshments after blood donation.

151 donors took part in this noble cause. Our scouts, guides and JRC assisted the Jeevan Blood Bank team in the camp. It was a good learning experience for them. Jeevan Blood Bank gave appreciation certificates to the volunteers for their involvement. The Blood Bank also sent Donor’s card to all the Donors specifying their personal details, including their Blood group and the date of last donation.

It was really a gratifying experience which gave all the donors a feeling of great satisfaction and made them feel happy all day long. Thanks to Jeevan Blood Bank for giving us an opportunity to render this invaluable contribution to society.

‘A very important part of the joy of living is the joy of giving.

Let us all become great Samaritans experiencing a sense of fulfillment and joy in serving the Lord’s creation.

Mismatched umbilical cord blood transplant for MDS

The MDS Beacon says “Umbilical cord blood transplantation with a mismatched donor produces similar outcomes as bone marrow transplantation with a mismatched donor, according to results from a recent analysis conducted in Japan.”

More at

HIV In Children With Thalassemia – Junagadh

With 23 the news of 23 Children with Thalassemia developing HIV after repeated transfusion in Junagadh, Gujarat, safety of transfused blood comes into sharp focus. Pointing of finger in all directions will follow and in the large window, the proponents of NAT testing will scare the public and authorities.

I am not against NAT. There are far more important things to do before talking of NAT.

So what is the solution?

I would recommend two things:

The root cause for such reported and unreported instances is the source of blood. If 2% of our population decided to donate blood twice a year without being called, several thousand lives can be saved. If every media house donates time for such social issues, people can be made aware how they can make a change.

1. I will spend a fraction of money the Government might consider spending on NAT on creating a pool of voluntary blood donors. This needs to be done through committed voluntary organizations like AVBD (West Bengal). It is easy to replicate this successful model, if funds are available to the right people. I for one do not believe the statistics rolled out on voluntary blood donation in this country. This is for another separate post!

2. I will ban testing for infectious diseases by any blood bank collecting less than 300 blood donations in a month. Because of economics of testing by the right technique and kits of right sensitivity, such small blood banks will have to compromise for survival. Hence the need for centralizing the testing for infectious diseases to a larger and quality conscious blood bank within 50 – 100 km radius.

If the combination of these two happen, tested and safe blood from voluntary donors will be available on demand to Indians across the country.
Jai Hind.

Is Nucleic Acid Testing the only way to enhance blood safety?

ELISA kits inaccurate, NAT needed, say blood bank officials – Indian Express 1 Sep 2010

20 children get HIV, Hepatitis due to infected transfusion – THE HINDU 12 July 2010

There has been a spurt of reports in the media in recent times suggesting Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) would have prevented these incidences of transfusion associated infections and ELISA testing in ineffective.

I agree with all that the onus of providing safe blood rests on the blood centres. What I do not agree is the rumour spread by the media about ELISA and some “professionals” working in blood transfusion services falling prey to the well-orchestrated campaign of the manufactures and distributors of NAT.

The reasons for these reported incidents could be many fold – inappropriate selection of blood donors (most critical link in blood safety), use of ELISA kits of substandard quality, inappropriate storage and inadequate training in performing the tests. All these need to be looked into and appropriate corrective / preventive measures instituted.

ELISA is a Time-tested Technology and in fact in recent times the fourth generation tests have been released for use in blood centres.These tests for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are as clinically sensitive as NAT and can easily be automated and performed on the machines already available in the blood centres of India. Only ignorant “professionals” and those with “other” intentions can talk of NAT being made mandatory or ELISA is bad technology, at the cost of taxpayer’s money.

I do hope sense prevails upon these people to understand that if one spends 10% of the cost of NAT testing in promoting regular voluntary blood donation and testing the donated blood with modified antigen + antibody testing on ELISA platform  will certainly help India achieve the desired highest level of blood safety.

Saving Lives of Indian Children Globally – Need a Chris Smith in India… soon

Not only has God in His wisdom and goodness created a placenta and the umbilical cord to nurture and protect the precious life of an unborn child, but now we know that another gift awaits us immediately after birth. Something very special is left behind, cord blood that is teeming with life-saving stem cells,”

Read more about US Congressman Chris Smiths effort ...

Why Blood Banks Charge For Blood When It Is Donated?

Yesterday I was having a cup of tea with a group of people who had come to discuss some projects their organsiation wants to do in the domain of blood donation. During the conversation one of them mentioned about “blood banks make money out of blood donation”- statement I have heard several hundred times in 15 years.

This triggered me in to writing this piece.

Donated blood cannot be transfused to any patient as is where condition. Ask yourself whether you would like to receive. It can happen only in the domain of “woods” –  Kolly, Bolly, Tolly….

Let’s look into the activities that happen to make available safe blood and blood components to patients:

  1. Social marketing to create awareness on voluntary blood donation and get the potential donor to donate blood. One out of 30 calls succeed.
  2. Collection of donated blood into a sterile single use disposable bag (cost varies for single, double, triple bags and the quality of the bags).
  3. Post Donation care – refreshments, donor certificate, donor card.
  4. Donor blood grouping.
  5. Separation of Blood into components.
  6. Storage of the blood and blood components at appropriate temperatures – till given to patient or discarded for various reasons.
  7. Testing the donated blood to ensure safety – this might vary from blood bank to blood bank based on the number of tests and the quality of testing.
  8. Compatible testing to identify the correct unit for transfusion for a given patient.
  9. Packing and release of the identified unit to the hospital.
  10. Expense relating to discard of blood units which have already been tested and found unfit for use.
  11. Cost involved in safe disposal of waste generated (bio-medical waste disposable).
  12. Employee cost (salary).
  13. Cost of purchase and maintenance of expensive equipments.
  14. Rent, electricity, and cost of diesel to run the generator.

It costs on an average Rs. 1500 to process single blood donation.

In the absence of any government support, blood banks have to recover these expenses either from the patients who can afford to reimburse them or by way of donations from the society it supports. Government blood banks also spend money to process blood and the same comes from the taxpayer’s money!

Jeevan is fortunate to have supporters in the community. Jeevan meets the blood needs of several hundred patients every year through the “Make Blood Free” programme with public support. Beneficiaries are children with Thalassemia (need 2 blood transfusions a month), Patients of Tanker Foundation (Dialysis), Adyar Cancer Institute, Govt. Children’s Hospital and many others. Major donors to this programme are Rotary Club of Madras Metro and Cognizant Foundation.

There is no free lunch in this world!

You can also support Make Blood Free. Join the mission at

Till next time…


Is Charity Dying in India?

Three incidents in quick succession make me feel that charity is dying in India.

In February 2009, Jeevan Blood Bank and Research Centre, a Chennai based not-for-profit established the first Public Cord Blood Bank to help children with blood cancers and Thalassemia. The vision is to make available matching stem cells from donated umbilical cord blood to these children either free or at affordable cost.

For this project which will benefit children across India and children of Indian origin across the world, Jeevan needs 90 crores of rupees over three years to collect, process, test and store 30,000 cord blood donations. The only silver lining in fund mobilisation is the approval of 35 AC status to donations up to 47 crores of rupees – meaning 100% tax exemption to donations. Donations in US and UK through are eligible for tax exemptions.

In this background let us look at the events:

1. Letters to over 500 Chairmen and CEOs of Indian companies has not elicited any response – except two companies contributing to 30,000 rupees each! I suspect (al)most all of them did not even reach the their table. All that was needed was 30,000 donations of 30,000 rupees each across India – I am sure organsiations like CII can facilitate this as “CSR” activity of the member companies!

2. During a recent dinner meeting one of my good friends said his company has a significanT tax liabIlity this year because of extremely good business – money came from sale of consumables to blood bank industry across India. I was told that his CA had advised him either to pay the tax and retain the money or share it with employees and write off as business expense instead of “donating”. His reason – these “loyal” employees will bring in more money to the company next year!

3. Recent suggestions of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India to change the policies relating to tax exemptions to donations, if approved, will place the final nail on the coffin of charity.

We at Jeevan are debating about the options available to ensure availability of matching stem cells to these children while the country is watching IPL3.

We are born optimists – like every team and owners of IPL!!!!

Till next time….