How to donate cord blood

Why donate cord blood?

The term "cord blood" is used for the blood remaining in the umbilical cord and the placenta after the birth of a baby. Cord Blood contains stem cells that can grow into blood and immune system cells, as well as other types of cells. Today cord blood is often used as a substitute for bone marrow in stem cell transplants. Over 80 diseases are treated this way, including cancers, blood disorders, genetic and metabolic diseases.

Cord blood donation costs the parents nothing, but can give birth to hope for a patient in need.

What is cord blood donation?

The parents sign an informed consent which gives a "public" cord blood bank permission to list their child's blood on a database that can be searched to find a match for a transplant patient. The cord blood is listed purely by its tissue type, with no information about the identity of the donor. In the United States, Be The Match maintains a national network of public cord blood banks and registered donations. However, all the donation networks around the world cooperate with each other, so that a patient who one day benefits from your child's cord blood may come from anywhere. It is truly a gift to the benefit of humankind.

You can donate from (almost) anywhere

There are cord blood donation programs available to all expectant parents in the contiguous United States. Check our searchable map of donation locations to see if the hospital where you will deliver collects cord blood donations. Otherwise, you can register for a mail-in donation program.

Once you find a public cord blood bank that can accept your donation, all you have to do is contact them and follow their instructions.

Plan ahead!

The majority of programs that accept cord blood donations require the mother to sign up between the 28th and 34th week of pregnancy. This cannot be over-stressed; time and time again, mothers who want to donate are turned away because they did not inquire about donation until it was too late.

The main reason for this requirement is to give the cord blood bank enough time to complete the enrollment process. For the safety of any person who might receive the cord blood donation, the mother must pass a health history screening. And for ethical reasons, the mother must give informed consent.

There are a handful of hospitals that have dedicated collections staff who can process mothers at the last minute when they arrive to deliver the baby. However, that is the exception to the rule.