July is National Cord Blood Awareness Month

Did you know that you could cure someone’s blood cancer by giving birth?

Chances are if you aren’t in the medical field or have been an expectant mother recently, you have only heard of Cord Blood, but still have yet to fully grasp the magnitude it’s importance…

What is cord blood?

The term “cord blood” is used to describe the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and the placenta after the birth of a baby. Up until recently this afterbirth was discarded as medical waste. Cord blood contains stem cells that may be cryopreserved for later use in medical therapies, such as stem cell transplants or clinical trials of new stem cell therapies. Umbilical cord blood, which is typically thrown away, is rich with the blood-forming cells that can give blood cancer patients hope for a cure. Donating your baby’s cord blood to a public cord blood bank can help patients get the transplants they need.

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When parents contemplate cord blood banking, they consider the odds that their baby or an immediate family member will need a stem cell transplant. The cumulative probability that a child will have a stem cell transplant by age 10 is only 1 in 5,000 (.02%) for transplants from a donor and 1 in 10,000 (.01%) for transplants of the child’s own cells. Medical societies have warned parents that the odds of their child needing stem cells from cord blood are very low, and if the only consideration is using the cord blood for a stem cell transplant, that is certainly true for the average person. However, even if you never need access to the blood, there is the opportunity to give life to someone else in dire need. Donating your baby’s cord blood to a public cord blood bank can help patients get the transplants they need. Thousands of critically ill patients can benefit from umbilical cord blood.

Considering Donating?

Public cord blood banks accept cord blood donations for free. Most require the mother to register by the 34th week of pregnancy, and she must pass medical eligibility guidelines. If the donation meets the size threshold for transplant use, it is saved and listed on a registry that can be searched by patients.

There are a few ways to learn more and donate your baby’s cord blood to a public bank:

  1. More information on saving lives through your little miracle: at BeTheMatch.org
  2. Find a donation site: A limited number of large birthing hospitals in the USA accept donations.
  3. Send your baby’s cord blood to a mail-in donation program.girl-18918_640

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