If you will soon be having a baby, you may be able to give life to two people:
- Your newborn child
- Another child or adult who has a life-threatening disease
Your baby's umbilical cord and placenta, which are normally discarded after birth, contain blood stem cells. These cells can be transplanted into a patient to save his or her life.
How to Donate Cord Blood
If you would like to donate your baby's cord blood to a public cord blood bank to help a person who is ill:
- Discuss donation with your doctor between your 28th and 34th week of pregnancy
- View the medical guidelines for donating your baby's cord blood
- Check the list of U.S. hospitals that collect cord blood for public use to see if yours is included
- If your hospital is not listed, a cord blood bank may be able to provide your doctor with a kit for collection.
Donating umbilical cord blood is safe for you and your baby.
- The cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord and placenta after your child is born.
- Neither you, nor your baby, will be given any medications or undergo any invasive medical procedure to collect the cord blood.
Storing Cord Blood for Private Use
Some parents choose to store their baby's umbilical cord blood for private use.
- The likelihood that your baby will need the stored cord blood during the first 20 years of life is small - less than 4/100th of one percent.
- If your child develops a blood disorder, like leukemia, and needs a transplant, the preferred source of stem cells will be from a healthy donor, not your baby's own cord blood.
The American Society for Blood & Marrow Transplantation™ recommends private cord blood banking only in certain circumstances where there is clearly a familial need, such as an immediate family member who has a disease that can be treated by a cord blood transplant
- Several cord blood banks have sibling directed cord blood programs that allow parents to store their baby's cord blood for use by a sibling.
If you choose to bank your baby's cord blood privately, you should carefully consider the qualifications of the cord blood bank. The Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation lists information about cord blood banks worldwide and suggests questions to ask a bank before storing your baby's cord blood. It also provides information about fees charged by the banks to collect and store the cord blood.