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As Prescribed Blog



As Prescribed Blog

Give birth to hope—Cord blood donation

Nancy Aguirre, MD Nancy Aguirre, MD April 30, 2013 0 Comments Obstetrics

Quick, easy, painless, and saves lives. You would want to know more, right? New mothers have the opportunity to save the life of someone who may need a stem cell transplant by simply donating cord blood, a simple and painless process.

What is cord blood? In the past, a baby’s umbilical cord was disposed of following delivery, but today, blood from the cord can be collected after your child’s birth and donated to a public cord bank. A baby’s umbilical cord contains special cells that can be used in transplants to treat certain types of leukemia and other blood diseases. When stem cells divide, they have the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as muscle cell, oxygen carrying blood cells, or a brain cell; they can even fight disease, repair bone and tissue damage, and stop bleeding.

Who benefits? What are your options? Donating is simple, but receiving can be everything. A happy event for you and your child could become the same for someone in need. The National Marrow Donor Program® estimates that 45,000 to 50,000 stem cell transplants are performed annually worldwide to treat patients with life-threatening diseases. Today, expectant parents may choose from the following options:

  • Donate to a public cord bank. When you donate for public use, it is free-of-charge and the cord blood is available to any patient who needs a transplant. Cord blood stem cells are successfully used today and have been saving lives for over 20 years. As a new mother, donating cord blood increases the chances that patients who might benefit from stem cell transplants are able to have one quickly.
  • Store in a family (private) cord bank. Mothers can also choose to store the cord blood cells to potentially use in case of a life-saving transplant needed by the newborn baby or family member. Although a fee is charged for collection and storage, privately storing your child’s cord blood cells should be taken into special consideration for families with a history of hereditary diseases which can be treated with stem cells.
  • Save for a sibling who has a medical need. At the time of birth, if a biological sibling has a disease that may be treated with a cord blood transplant, parents can choose to save their child’s cord blood for direct donation with little or no cost to eligible families.
  • Do nothing. This is always an option, where the umbilical cord blood will be disposed of after birth.

Cord blood donation is a simple process with life-changing potential. If you are interested in pursuing cord blood donation or have further questions, please contact your Fort HealthCare provider.