Process of Donation
During Your Pregnancy
During your pregnancy, inform yourself on cord blood, itï¿½s potential uses and what banking entails. If youï¿½re deciding to donate your babyï¿½s umbilical cord blood, then look for a public bank near your area. Be sure to read all the fine print before giving your informed consent. Make sure that the hospital you plan on delivering at participates with a cord blood bank. Have your hospital and cord blood bank arranged by the 34th week, or 8th month of your pregnancy.
After you have delivered your baby, the umbilical cord will be clamped and cut. There are about 3 to 5 ounces of cord blood rich in stem cells left in the umbilical cord and placenta. The doctor, who has been trained on extracting cord blood from the umbilical cord, will then drain the blood using the collection kit sent by your bank.
Once the cord blood arrives at the bank, it will be rigorously screened for diseases or genetic problems. You will be alerted as to the status of your cord blood sample. If it doesnï¿½t meet eligibility criteria, your cord blood will be sold to further scientific research. If it meets the criteria, it will be cryogenically stored at the laboratory. Blood can be stored past 15 years with a 95% viability rate.
Once your cord blood has been screened, it will be entered on a registry. The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) registry, for example, has 28,000 samples of cord blood registered. Most banks participate with this registry, as itï¿½s the largest in the country. Registry is confidential. Doctors search these registries to find matches for patients they are treating.
If a doctor finds a perfect match between your cord blood and a patient in need, your cord blood will then be used in a transplant.
What if My Family Needs the Cord Blood?
While the odds of needing cord blood are rare, what happens if your family needs the banked cord blood? Depending on the your bankï¿½s policies, you will probably have first access to it as long as it hasnï¿½t been already matched to another patient.