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, 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.