Read any current baby book or magazine these days and you’re sure to find adds and articles about the concept of cord blood donation.
What is it? Blood from the umbilical cord and placenta is taken, after it is detached from mother and baby (so no pain), and then put into a publicly accessible storage bank for future use in people who need it. Rich in stem cells, this is an ethical way of harvesting these cells with no harm to anyone and it is nearly always discarded as medical waste. They are accessible to patients looking for donors to treat critical illnesses, like leukemia, brain cancer and a host of other diseases and is very similar to donated bone marrow cells. Research is on-going so more applications for these cells may be available in the future.
Of course, you can save this blood for your child’s potential future use – at a substantial cost. However, at least for hubby and I, finances and family history do not collude in this area.
I was pleasantly surprised to see my hospital listed on the list served for public donations and intend to donate Rose’s cord blood after her delivery.
The only catch with doing this is – You have to plan ahead. Just like with donating blood, the cord blood bank wants to know that the mother is healthy and won’t take it from people with diseases like HIV. That said, their website states that if you don’t qualify for the bank, you can have the blood used for research – which is just as needed.
Another benefit of donating? Some programs provide free screening for some infant diseases like PKU, CAH and others.
I’ll keep you posted on how the process goes…