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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
Blood Cell Transplant

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Options for Umbilical Cord Blood Banking & Donation

Blood from the umbilical cord and placenta is unique because it contains a relatively large number of blood-forming cells. These cells may be potentially life-saving for someone who has a disease such as leukemia, or lymphoma, or certain inherited metabolic or immune system disorders. An umbilical cord blood transplant, like a bone marrow transplant (also called a BMT), replaces a patient's diseased cells with healthy cells.

The umbilical cord is routinely discarded after the baby is born—unless the parents are able to choose otherwise. Today, expectant parents may choose to have the blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta collected and:

  • Donated to a public cord blood bank. Cord blood donated to a public cord blood bank is available to patients who need a transplant. The donation process is free to the parents donating the umbilical cord blood. Today, however, only certain hospitals are able to collect umbilical cord blood for storage in public cord blood banks. Learn about Donating Umbilical Cord Blood to a Public Bank.
  • Stored in a family (private) cord blood bank. Cord blood stored in a family cord blood bank is saved for that family. Family cord blood banks are available throughout the country for anyone who chooses to pay for the collection and storage of the umbilical cord blood. If you are considering family banking, contact a family cord blood bank as soon as possible.
  • Saved for a family member who has a medical need. When a family member has a disease that may be treated with a bone marrow or cord blood transplant, parents can choose to save their baby's cord blood for directed donation. Collecting and storing cord blood for directed donation is offered at little or no cost to eligible families. To learn more about directed donation, contact a participating public cord blood bank exit disclaimer or a family cord blood bank at Parent's Guide to Cord Blood. exit disclaimer
  • Donated for research. Check with your doctor, midwife or cord blood bank for more information.

If you are an expectant parent, talk with your health care provider about the options that may be available to you. By making an informed decision, you can take steps to have the umbilical cord blood collected and possibly give someone another chance at life.

Options for Umbilical Cord Blood

Learn more about how cord blood may help another person.

Policy and Opinion Statements

To help understand options for umbilical cord blood, read policy and opinion statements from medical organizations.