The term “cord blood” might sound a little weird if you’ve never heard of it, but this incredible, life-saving biological material can be collected after childbirth and used for future transplants. But what is cord blood? And what does it mean to bank it? Read on to find out.
What is cord blood?
Cord blood is the leftover blood in the umbilical cord and placenta after an infant is born. Typically, it is discarded as medical waste. However, instead of being discarded, cord blood can be preserved and donated to a public cord bank for later medical use. Or it can be stored in a private family blood bank for use only by your family.
Cord blood contains blood-forming stem cells that can rebuild bone marrow and the immune system when transplanted. It can save the life of a patient with a serious blood disorder and can treat patients with inherited genetic disorders, bone marrow failure, and more. It’s one of just three sources of stem cells used in transplants (the other two being bone marrow and blood).
Should I donate my cord blood to a public bank, or bank it privately?
That decision is up to you. Many parents choose to bank their baby’s cord blood privately as a form of “insurance” in case the baby or a close biological match—such as another family member—becomes ill and needs a transplant. Doctors estimate the likelihood that your child would need their own cord blood to treat a health condition is about 1 in 2,700.
Others choose to donate cord blood so people outside of their family with medical needs can use this life-saving material. Stem cells found in cord blood have been used in over 40,000 transplants around the world, and have been studied in over 200 clinical trials.
Collecting cord blood is easy and painless. After your child is delivered, the umbilical cord will be clamped and cut. Blood from the cord and placenta are then collected and placed in a sterile bag. No blood will be taken from your baby, and the collection process poses no risk to you or your child. The process will not interfere with labor or delivery in any way.Whether you decide to bank it privately for your family or make a donation for public use, preserving your baby’s cord blood is an excellent way to help your baby—and, through Public Cord Blood Banking, potentially other people—get lifesaving treatment if they ever need it.