Your decision to donate umbilical cord blood, which is rich with blood-forming cells, may potentially save the life of someone who has a life-threatening disease.
Donating cord blood to a public cord blood bank involves talking with your doctor or midwife about your decision to donate and then contacting a cord blood bank (if donation is an option at your hospital). Upon arriving at the hospital, remind the labor and delivery team that you are donating umbilical cord blood.
After the delivery of your baby, the umbilical cord and placenta are no longer needed. Because you are choosing to donate, the blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta will be collected and tested. Cord blood that is determined to be suitable for transplant will be stored at the public cord blood bank until needed by a patient. (It is not saved for your family.)
By donating umbilical cord blood, you have chosen to try to help someone in need of a potentially life-saving transplant.
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Cord blood donation is free to parents. Public cord blood banks pay for the collection, testing, and storing of umbilical cord blood. This means that cord blood donation is not possible in every hospital.
If a public cord blood bank is not collecting in your area, perhaps there is another way you can help.
Contact the public cord blood bank that works with your hospital (see above). Although each cord blood bank has its own instructions, they often include asking you to:
Medical professionals at the public cord blood bank will evaluate whether you can donate. If you have had a disease that can be transferred to another person through blood-forming cells, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV (the AIDS virus), you will likely be unable to donate. However, other medical conditions may still allow you to donate, for example, hepatitis A or diabetes only during your pregnancy (gestational diabetes). The professionals at the public cord blood bank will decide.
Keep a copy of the consent form in case you need to contact the cord blood bank.
Each cord blood bank has different instructions for returning the consent form. Some banks may ask you to return the consent form along with the health history forms or to bring the original consent form with you to the hospital. Other banks may have you complete the form at the hospital. Follow the instructions from your public cord blood bank.
After the cord blood unit arrives at the cord blood bank, it is:
You and your baby's identity are always kept confidential by the public cord blood bank. The cord blood unit is given a number at the hospital, and this is how it is identified on the registry and at the public cord blood bank.
Taking time to consider helping another person when you are already busy planning for the birth of your child is greatly appreciated. A gift of cord blood may someday give someone a second chance at life.
Learn about the registry of marrow donors and donated cord blood units and the matching process.