Are there health risks?
There is absolutely no danger to either the mother or her newborn child. Moments after the baby is born the umbilical cord is clamped to break the ties between the baby and the placenta. Taking only about ten minutes, the blood is collected through a needle and transported into a blood bag. If there are complications during the birth for either the mother or the baby, the doctor will not be able to collect the cord blood.
Why should all ethnic and racial groups consider donating cord blood?
According to the NMDP, "Because the tissue traits that are used to match a cord blood unit with a patient are inherited, a patient's most likely match will be cord blood donated by someone of the same heritage. American Indian and natives of Alaska, Asian, Black and African American, Hispanic and Latino, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, and multiple-race patients face a greater challenge in finding a match than Caucasian patients."
The NMDP is working with local communities to help increase the racial and ethnic diversity for cord blood listings. From 2001 to 2005, the likelihood of finding a suitably matched cord blood unit has more than doubled for patients from all racial and ethnic groups.
What happens when I donate?
Once cord blood has been extracted from the umbilical cord, it is taken to the laboratory. There it will be tested to see how many cells it contains, its tissue type, and for bacterial or fungal contamination. Cord blood that meets the bank's criteria is stored in a liquid nitrogen freezer until someone needs a stem cell transplant. Ongoing studies show that good cell recovery could last up to ten years of being in storage.
Is donation confidential?
Yes. The identity of the donor is kept entirely confidential, and no information is passed from the organ blood donor to the blood transplant recipient.
If you'd like to learn more about cord blood donation, you can visit the NMDP on the web at www.marrow.org, or call them at (800) 627-7692. They offer handy links to affiliated hospitals and non-participating cord blood banks.