Blood can save lives. This is particularly true of cord blood. The blood within the umbilical cord contains high amounts of the blood-forming cells that can battle serious medical conditions such as leukemia and lymphoma among other blood diseases. In essence, your baby’s cord is valuable, as donating cord blood could save other people’s lives. Cord blood contains the same type of cells found in bone marrow; however unlike bone marrow transplants, which can be a painful procedure, collecting blood from the umbilical cord once it’s cut is a painless procedure—it involves neither you nor the baby.
After your baby is born, you’ll need to deliver the placenta and cut the cord. While a small number of women allow the cord to fall off naturally, most opt to cut the cord at birth. After the cord is cut, the remaining placenta and cord are deemed medical waste and disposed of by the hospital. However, there are public cord blood banks that can match the blood in your baby’s umbilical cord to a person suffering from a blood disease. If you decide to donate your baby’s cord blood, the blood will be removed after the umbilical cord has been removed. Once registered at the cord blood bank, it can be matched to an individual who needs it to aid them in their fight.
How Does Donating Cord Blood Help Others?
Children and adults suffering from a blood disease such as leukemia need healthy blood cells; their own blood cells carry the disease they suffer from. By introducing healthy cells capable of producing blood, the hope is that these new cells will replace the damaged ones, allowing the individual to enter remission. Although these patients try to find a blood match in their own family, nearly 7 out of 10 individuals will be unsuccessful. This means that they must rely on blood donations from strangers in order to combat the disease within their own blood.
What You Should Know
Donating cord blood to a bank is free. All you’ll need to do is sign paperwork. Your donation is protected by privacy laws and your name will not be shared with recipients. Once you deliver your baby and cut the cord, the hospital staff will collect blood from the cord and it will be sent to a public cord bank. As long as the cord blood meets established criteria it will be available to whoever has need of it on the Be The Match registry. Cord blood cells are not embryonic stem cells; this process is not controversial in any way.
For more information regarding the process regarding cord blood donation, considering visiting Be The Match, the national cord blood registry bank. Their website can answer any questions you may have. This is a personal decision that all new parents must make. Cord blood banks are specifically in need of cords from diverse racial backgrounds. Donating cord blood is a simple, safe procedure. However it is also a procedure that could profoundly affect another’s life: it could literally give another person life.