Saving Lives By Donating Cord Blood

Expectant mothers have much to consider and many decisions to make when preparing for the birth of their baby. Some are unaware that the life-changing event they’re anxiously awaiting could actually save the life of another person.

Mothers who deliver their child at St. Joseph Hospital have the opportunity to donate umbilical cord blood to the Cord Blood Bank at CHOC Children’s, the only hospital in Orange County to accept and store public cord blood donations. This donation is made at no cost to the family.

Umbilical cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and the umbilical cord following birth. It contains cells that can repair and restore a person’s immune system that has been damaged by treatments required for cancer, anemia, and dozens of other life-threatening diseases. Historically, these patients have depended on bone marrow transplants, but cord blood is more readily available and more likely to be accepted by the recipient.

The cord blood is collected immediately following birth. After the cord is cut (by a person of the mother’s choosing) and clamped, and when the placenta is delivered, the umbilical cord and placenta are given to a member of the CHOC Cord Blood Bank’s team, who collects the cord blood. Birthing plans are not affected in any way. A small sample of blood, equal to three tablespoons, will be collected from the mother within 48 hours of giving birth so the blood may be tested for communicable diseases, to ensure the donated blood is safe for its eventual recipient.

Cord blood not donated to public banks or stored privately (for a fee) is discarded.  Public cord blood banking is different from private cord blood banking. Private banking is a paid service that allows families to store their baby’s cord blood in case their own baby or another family member needs it in the future.

Donations made to public banks like CHOC are listed confidentially in the registry database of Be The Match®, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program®, so that physicians can search for a cord blood unit that is a match for a patient who needs it. When a match is made, the donated cord blood is transferred to the hospital where the transplant will take place. A public bank, such as CHOC’s, provides cord blood to anyone who needs it— which means you could be saving the life of another person as far away as Costa Rica or Germany. Cord blood units donated to CHOC have to date been transferred to more than a dozen countries across four continents.

Patients in need are more likely to find a compatible match amongst someone who shares their racial or ethnic heritage. For this reason, a diverse pool of donors is needed.

A pregnant mother may sign up to donate cord blood prior to delivery or once she has checked into the hospital to deliver.

Learn more about how your donation of umbilical cord blood could save lives, or call 714-509-4335 for more information.

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Give Hope this Mother’s Day by Donating Umbilical Cord Blood

This Sunday, Mother’s Day, families nationwide will honor the women who gave them the greatest gift a person can receive: life.

baby3However, many are not aware that a child’s birth can signify new life in more than one way. Birth can be a lifeline for thousands of people with diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma. Umbilical cord blood, like marrow, is rich in blood-forming cells that can be used to treat many life-threatening diseases. Many patients depend on the generosity of mothers who donate their babies’ cord blood to a public cord blood bank. This way, the cord blood can become a potentially life-saving treatment option for a patient.

Cord blood donation is available for local expectant moms delivering at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange. CHOC Children’s Cord Blood bank is especially in need of donated cord blood from babies whose parents are of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. For more information, contact the CHOC Children’s Cord Blood Bank at cbb-coordinators@choc.org or 714-509-4335.

There is no cost to donate to a public cord blood bank and it is completely safe for both mother and baby. Cord blood is collected immediately after a baby is born and does not interfere with labor or delivery in any way.

Donated cordbaby2 blood is listed on the Be The Match Registry, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), where it is made available to any patient in need of a transplant. The Be The Match Registry is the world’s largest listing of potential marrow donors and donated cord blood units. Over the past 25 years, the NMDP and Be The Match have made more than 55,000 marrow and cord blood transplants possible. Additional information can be found at BeTheMatch.org/cord.

More patients may find a suitable match outside of their families because cord blood tissue types do not need to match as closely as marrow for a successful transplant. However, patients are more likely to match someone who shares their heritage, hence the call for donations from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Cord blood is particularly useful for those patients who need a transplant performed quickly because donations are stored and readily available. Despite its potential, most cord blood is discarded. More donations mean more patients can get the transplant they need.

Nothing else that offers so much hope comes with so little effort. In honor of this Mother’s Day, expectant moms are encouraged to give the gift of hope by choosing to donate their baby’s cord blood.

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July is Cord Blood Awareness Month

In recognition of Cord Blood Awareness Month, check out these frequently asked questions about donating umbilical cord blood, which can give someone with a life-threatening disease another chance at life.

 

The CHOC Children’s Cord Blood Bank
Parents have the opportunity to donate umbilical cord blood to the Cord Blood Bank at CHOC Children’s, the only center of its kind in Orange County. Cord blood collected by CHOC’s blood bank becomes listed in the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) database.  The cord blood becomes available to anyone, world-wide, who is in need of a life-saving transplant.

 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
The Cord Blood bank team at CHOC Children’s offers the following information for parents considering donating cord blood.

What is cord blood?
Umbilical cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and the umbilical cord following birth, and is typically discarded. Cord blood banking saves the blood from the umbilical cord, which contains cells that can repair and restore an immune system. The umbilical cord is rich in blood stem cells, and can be used in transplantation for life-threatening diseases such as leukemia, as well as immune, metabolic and genetic diseases. According to the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), seven out of 10 patients have to look outside their families for donors because there are not suitably matched persons in their families.

When is the cord blood collected?
The cord blood is collected immediately following the birth of your baby.  The cord will be cut and clamped. When the placenta is delivered, the umbilical cord and placenta are both collected by a Cord Blood Bank staff member.

Does donating cord blood affect my birthing process?
No.  The collection of cord blood will not change the birthing process in any way.  Blood will not be taken from your baby.  The collection procedure is non-invasive and completely safe for both you and your baby.

What else is required of me?
Following delivery, within 48 hours, a staff member from the CHOC Cord Blood Bank will visit you to complete an informed consent, medical history screening and collect a blood sample from your arm for infectious disease testing to ensure that the donated cord blood is as safe as possible to the recipient.

Is there any cost for donation?
No.  There is no cost to you or your insurance company.  Funding for the CHOC Cord Blood Bank is provided by private donations.

Can I keep the cord blood for my child or family?
For a fee, the CHOC Cord Blood Bank does offer a “directed” service where it collects and stores your baby’s cord blood specifically for your child, his sibling, or another family member. The service includes the cord blood collection, cord blood processing, testing for contamination and infectious diseases, freezing of the processed cord blood, and storage for 18 years.

To Learn More
If you decide to donate, the next step is to call the CHOC Cord Blood Bank at 714-509-4335. The team will review the program with you and answer any questions you have.

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